What's the Least Terrible Night Democrats Can Have?

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Ok, so a House of Representatives majority appears to be out of reach for the Democrats, if Gallup's final generic ballot measure is any indication. Republicans are going to have a good -- a great -- night on Tuesday. Hundreds of more state legislators. As many as 30 governors. All that new energy and zest.  


In 2002, the day after the Democrats did poorly in President Bush's first midterms, Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe famously told a press conference that "as of this morning, a majority of Americans are governed by Democrats." That was his unconvincing attempt at spin. It was unconvincing in part because it was so transparently spin.

So let's stipulate that the Democrats will be heartbroken come Tuesday. But can we set a baseline level of expectations as to what would constitute the LEAST worst night they could have? Here's what I'd suggest:

-If Democrats prevent Republicans from picking up MORE than 50 House seats...

-If Democrats retain their Senate majority WITHOUT Joe Biden having to trek down to the Hill and cast the tie-breaking vote...

-If Democrats pick up/keep at least three of the following four governors' mansions--Colorado, Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania--or two of the preceding states AND if Bill White comes within 8 points of beating incumbent Gov. Rick Perry in Texas ...

-If austerity ballot measures in Colorado fail to pass and pot legalization does pass in California ...

The Democrats will be in reasonable shape for a comeback in 2012, so long as other factors cooperate. 
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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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