It’s not a happy time to be a Republican. After first losing control of the House of Representatives and the Senate in 2006, and then the White House this past election cycle, the Republican Party has lost a big name Republican senator from a blue state. Specter needed to switch to survive a primary challenge from right wing Republican Pat Toomey. Whatever the politics of the decision, it’s given the Democrats what they want: the opportunity for a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Assuming Al Franken, Democratic Senator from Minnesota, who is facing a court challenge over the results of the 2008 Minnesota senate election from incumbent Norm Coleman, becomes seated, the Democratic caucus will reach the magic number 60 in the Senate required for shutting down the filibuster.
It was only a month ago that Democrats had a serious fear of losing the 2008 presidential election. The nomination of Sarah Palin was thought to be the beginning of the end of the Obama juggernaut. This was the first time that McCain had held a lead nationally since May — far before Obama had wrapped up the nomination.