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The 2006 Election Results


In the Senate, the current Republican majority is 55-45. Only a third of seats are to be contested this year. Of these, the Democrats currently occupy 17 and the Republicans 15 (the other is held by an independent who usually votes with the Democrats). To win an overall majority in the Senate, the Democrats would have to keep their behinds glued to all their own seats and snatch a further six from beneath the Republicans.

Charlie Cook, an expert watcher of such races, currently lists only five seats as toss-ups, with four of those defended by Republicans. For the Democrats to get a majority, they would have to win all the toss-ups and both the seats Mr Cook lists as leaning Republican—Missouri and Montana. A better bet for the moment would be a net gain of just three seats.


In the House of Representatives, the Republican majority is 231-203, with one vacancy. All 435 seats are being contested. The Democrats need to gain only 15 seats to win control of the House, but that is harder than it sounds. Incumbents in the House are fiendishly hard to dislodge—in a typical election year, more than 90% of those who stand, win. This is partly because both parties have shamelessly gerrymandered districts to protect sitting congressmen, and partly because incumbents outspend their challengers by a factor of 6.6. (Why give money to someone who's going to lose, and can't return the favour?)


The fall of Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania's junior senator, is even more eagerly anticipated by the American left. Mr Santorum is one of America's most articulate opponents of all things permissive. His six children are home-schooled; he opposes stem-cell research; he feels that sodomy should be outlawed; he favours national service. James Dobson, the head of Focus on the Family, an evangelical group, praises his “integrity, vision and unwavering commitment to the principles and beliefs upon which the United States was founded”. Meanwhile, gay activists use his name to denote something indescribable in a family newspaper.


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