What would be a sign that it's going to be a dreadful election night for Republicans? A win by Al Franken, says Sen. John Ensign, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Ensign's setting the bar pretty low for Republicans this election cycle, hoping at best to lose only three or four seats to the Democrats. "It would be fairly miraculous for us to get back into the majority, I guess would be a good way to say it," Ensign said.
And if Franken beats Minnesota Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, well, it's not going to be pretty. "That would be a bad night, most likely that's a bad night, we're not holding our losses at three or four seats probably," Ensign told lunching reporters Thursday.
The big problem is that more Republican senators than Democratic senators are up for re-election, and nine out of the 10 most competitive seats are held by Republicans. "That basically means we are playing defense," Ensign said. And while Ensign mentioned his list of 10 several times, it took NBC News' political director Chuck Todd to get the senator to reveal the whole list: Maine, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Alaska, Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Virginia.
And as for Franken, the Republicans are actually pleased they are going to have to go up against the former Saturday Night Live comedian. "Al Franken is a seriously flawed candidate and we are taking advantage of that," Ensign said.