Get Ready for a Landslide

05/22/2008 12:00 am EST

Focus: MARKETS

Knight Kiplinger

Editor-in-Chief, The Kiplinger Letter, Kiplinger's Personal Finance, and Kiplinger.com

Knight Kiplinger, editor in chief of The Kiplinger Letter, says Democrats have a good chance of decisively controlling both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue after the fall election.

Congressional Republicans are bracing for huge losses in November.

The Democratic win in [a Congressional election in] Mississippi May 13th was stunning-the third loss in three months in districts once considered Republican strongholds.

Democrats will gain over a dozen seats [in the House of Representatives], lifting their edge to at least 50. If the Mississippi race is any indication, voters want change and don't believe Republicans can produce it. Turnout favored Democrats, with record numbers of blacks going to the polls and many GOP voters deciding to stay home, despite a visit by Vice-President Dick Cheney.

Democrats will also do very well in the Senate contests in November. We see gains of four to seven seats, leaving Democrats still shy of the 60 needed to shut the door on a filibuster, but close to it. Democrats now control the Senate, 51 to 49, and the House, 236-199.       

Among the Senate seats Republicans are most likely to lose:       

Virginia. Former Gov. Mark Warner is a heavy favorite to win, giving Democrats the seat that has long been held by Sen. John Warner (no relation).       

New Hampshire. Democratic ex-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen has the edge in her bid to unseat Sen. John Sununu, whom many see as too close to Bush.

Colorado. Democratic Rep. Mark Udall, son of ex-Rep. Mo Udall, faces former Rep. Bob Schaffer for retiring Republican Sen. Wayne Allard's seat.

New Mexico. Another Udall-Mark's cousin Tom, Mo's nephew-has a good chance to capture the seat of retiring GOP Sen. Pete Domenici.

Democrats also have a shot at picking up seats in Alaska, Maine, Minnesota, and Oregon. The GOP has only one possible pickup: the Louisiana seat of Mary Landrieu. Many residents who left after Hurricane Katrina were Democrats.

[Meanwhile,] Sen. Barack Obama's big loss in West Virginia [and Kentucky] won't prevent him from winning the nomination-he still has a commanding lead in delegates over Hillary Clinton.

[But] the huge losses are heightening concern over his ability to win working-class white voters. West Virginia exit polls suggest strongly that race is an issue, with many whites telling pollsters that it was an important factor in their decision to vote for Clinton.

Obama has advantages, the biggest being that voters want change, especially on Iraq and the economy. He needs more working-class whites, but he's buoyed by support from blacks, the educated and the affluent. That may be enough to take him all the way to the White House.

A win by Sen. John McCain would give Republicans a presidential veto, checking Democrats' power or perhaps leading to bipartisan compromises.

But if Democrats win the White House, power will shift dramatically.

They'd have the largest governing majority since Lyndon Johnson won in 1964, leaving Republicans with few ways to block Democratic policies.

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