07/31/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Schumer: A 60-Seat Majority Is Possible

Senator Chuck Schumer whetted the palate of many Democrats today when he suggested, for the first time of the election cycle, that their dream of a 60-seat majority in the U.S. Senate could be within the party's grasp.

"I know you'll ask me, can we get to sixty?" the New York Democrat and head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said on Wednesday. "And I'd say it's very difficult given the map, but its not out of the question. And I would have said the same thing two years ago... if you would have asked me [then] could we get six seats a hundred days before the election. I would have said it is very difficult but it's not out of the question."

Schumer's proclamation comes as the Republican side of the aisle is running for political cover. GOP leadership has all but given the green light to vulnerable members to takes stances that differ with the party if it will help with their campaigns. Meanwhile, the National Republican Senatorial Committee is being drastically out-raised by its Democratic counterpart. Schumer highlighted five states as ripe for the picking -- Virginia, New Hampshire, Colorado, New Mexico, and Alaska -- as well as six others that could be close: Oregon, Minnesota, Mississippi, Kentucky, Maine, North Carolina. If nine seats were to change hands (and if the caucus allows Joe Lieberman to stay in its ranks), Democrats would have the filibuster-proof 60 that has long been viewed as a pipe-dream.

"We have had tremendous success recruiting," said Schumer. "And our candidates are proving to be even better than we thought. They are just a stellar group of people. They are smart, they tend to be non-ideological they tend to be mainstream and middle of the road. They are just what the doctor ordered in terms of winning elections."

Cognizant that the expectations game matters in the electoral process, Schumer later threw a wet blanket on the idea of an overwhelming Democratic landslide -- though it's hard, with the current diverging trajectories of the two parties, to take as sincere the Senator's warnings.

"So what's the bad news for us?" he asked, rhetorically. "The bad news in a certain sense, it's not bad news but it's a reality. So I call it bad reality. This is the reddest map in a very long time. The majority of seats we are seeking are in deeply red states. If you look at the thirty-five elections, two are in Wyoming and two in Mississippi. There are thirty-three states. But if you look at the map, the majority of states are either in deep south, great plains or the mountain west. Not traditionally positive areas for democrats. And of the Republican seats we are seeking, only three are in blue states, which are Maine, Minnesota, and Oregon, none of which are very blue states."

Additional reporting was provided by Bolu Adeyeye