Senator Chuck Schumer, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), held a press conference with reporters this afternoon and was absolutely bullish about the Democrats chances of taking back the Senate.
As an example, he pointed to Arizona. Polls have shown Republican Senator Jon Kyl with a comfortable lead over Democratic challenger Jim Pederson. But according to early voting indicators, 30 percent of Arizonians have already voted, and, based on DSCC polling, Pederson leads Kyl among that group, 44 to 40 percent.
"If Virginia is the cinderella story of '06, Arizona is the sleeper," Schumer said. Among the overall electorate, Kyl leads Pederson by single-digits, according to Schumer, and the DSCC recently went on the air in Phoenix and Tucson with $1 million in television ads. "This could be a harbinger of a wave," Schumer predicted.
Democrats need to pick up six seats to take back the Senate. Polling indicates that they're ahead by significant margins in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, clinging to a small lead in Montana and tied, if not up slightly, in Missouri and Virginia. Tennessee, where Harold Ford has been hit with a barrage of nasty, racially-tinged TV ads, appears to be trending Republican.
In these tight races, the DSCC is spending $25 million on get-out-the-vote efforts, which Schumer believes made the difference for Republicans in '04. "The two states where we built the strongest field operations were Montana and Missouri," Schumer stated, though he admitted to not knowing the difference between an RV and a Winnebago.
Luckily, John Kerry's much-discussed comments came up only once. "Senator Kerry has apologized," Schumer said. "He's said he's not gonna say anything else."
Before concluding, Schumer had one last message for the press: "Don't forget to vote."