Sunday with the Senators: A Primer

by DocJess at DemConWatch, 6/8/08

BACKGROUND: There are 100 voting members of the US Senate, 2 from each state in the Union. (And if you think “Oh, EVERYBODY knows that”, very sadly, no, they do not.) The Senate is broken into three classes: I, II, and III, based on which year they are up for election. Theoretically, that means that there are either 33 or 34 seats up each even year. However, this year, there are 35 Senate seats up for election, due to people having been appointed to fill the seat of others (due to death or retirement).

In the political world, people talk in terms of “Safe” “Favoured” “Lean” and “Toss-Up” seats. The seats normally refer to the party holding the seat. So a safe Democratic seat means “we can run a Styrofoam cup for that seat and we’ll hold it against the Republicans.” The other designations refer to a combination of poll results, history of who and/or which party has held the seat, and a sense of how sure “they” are about who will win the seat.

At least, that’s how it always went. This year is very, very different, because it is a transformational year. And we’ll come back to that later in this post when we analyze the results.

The Senate is the upper house of Congress, and it congenial in that the terms are 6 years, it is relatively small, and members tend to work together on issues in ways you might not suspect. Still, it is a political body….

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Filed under Jessica Weingarten, US Senate

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