With poll after poll showing Democrat Barack Obama widening his lead over Republican rival John McCain in the race to the Nov. 4 presidential vote, conservatives are fretting as democrats have a plausible shot at gaining nine seats to hit 60, which could provide the votes needed to clear Republican procedural hurdles and move quickly to keep campaign promises.
"Imagine what we can accomplish with a filibuster-proof Senate majority," Democratic presidential nominee Obama, who polls show is leading Republican rival McCain, wrote in a fund-raising appeal last week.
Despite their collective clout, Obama and a Democratic Senate "super majority" still would likely be hobbled by a record federal deficit. And Democratic senators could seek to seize the initiative with some of their own proposals rather than stick to the Obama game plan.
Nevertheless, a 60-seat majority in the 100-seat Senate would mean the Democrats would not have to cut deals with Republicans to move legislation, including promised measures to roll back tax cuts for the rich, increase regulation of the financial markets and stimulate the economy.
"Things have gone from bad to worse for Republicans," said Nathan Gonzales of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report, which tracks congressional elections.
"Fairly or unfairly, they (Republicans) have taken most of the blame for the economic crisis and Democrats have leveraged this to their advantage," Gonzales said.
Former secretary of state and military supremo Colin Powell Sunday endorsed Obama’s White House bid, in a stinging rebuff to McCain.
Powell said he plans to vote for Obama in the Nov. 4 election but does not intend to campaign for the Illinois senator as Obama and McCain enter the final weeks of their battle for the White House, in an appearance on NBC.
With the election more than two weeks away, a lot can happen and some conservatives say they are not giving up, even with polls suggesting Obama's fortune is rising with the sinking economy.
Such concerns are also helping to galvanize the party's conservative Christian base in the so-called red states that are considered Republican strongholds.
"I don't believe it's over until it's over," said Ron Osborne, a Southern Baptist pastor in a suburb north of
McCain, a self-proclaimed "maverick," has not always toed the conservative line and has himself been the target of right-wing ire. But his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, has inspired the party faithful.
Before the economy emerged as a top issue, Republicans had been hurt by the unpopularity of the
When it comes to handling fiscal matters, polls show Americans prefer Democrats over Bush and his traditionally pro-business, anti-regulation fellow Republicans.
A public backlash at what critics denounced as a "blank check for Wall Street" put a number of incumbents, primarily Republicans, in jeopardy.
Overall, 35 Senate seats are up for election, 23 now held by Republicans, the others by Democrats.