But the criterion for victory in the election today is simple: If the Democrats become the majority party in either house, they have won a great victory. For their party, but much more importantly, for America.
Control of even one House means that the battle to restore our constitutional system can be waged now with constitutionally granted powers. It means the ability --with hearings backed up by subpoena's--to ferret out the truth in a governmental system that has lately been ruled by lies and cover-ups. It means the ability to apply power to block the usurpation of powers by the presidency in violation of the letter and spirit of our Constitution.
Control of both houses would be great-- particularly as a message of repudiation of this Bushite power. It would be great to wrest the Senate chairmanships from the Republicans. And a non-Republican majority would impose greater limits on how extreme a judge Bush could get confirmed in the remaining two years of his term.
But controlling both houses would add relatively little to what is gained with a single house, and it carries some greater danger.
With both houses, the Democrats could pass legislation, but their strength will be far from veto proof. Nor would control of the Senate change greatly the prospects for impeachment: whether the Dems have 49 seats or 51, they will lack the 2/3 in the Senate necessary to convict.
Pushing laws against the will of this White House, or bringing this White House down will require Republican participation, regardless of which side wins a majority in the Senate.
Control of both houses will confer only very limited additional abilities to advance a separate agenda.
And meanwhile, if the Dems control both houses, there is the danger that comes from seeming to have more power than one does. There are more chickens coming home to roost in the next two years, and the Bushites will be glad to make their usual dishonest arguments that someone else is to blame. These are Republican chickens coming home to roost, and if the Dems control both houses when the chickens arrive, the Rovians may have an easier time obscuring their responsibility for those foul fowl.
With the Bushites in control of the White House, and with the Senate at best narrowly run by the Democrats, the best the Democrats can accomplish is to expose the dark truth about these past six years, and to place themselves in the path of future reckless and destructive ventures in world-domination and Constitution-dismantling.
For that purpose, any one house will suffice. Two sets of hearings could help --as with Watergate, if I recall-- but one set well-conducted and well-covered is what's essential.
If the Democrats become the majority party in the House of Representatives, it will be a great and historic victory. If the Republicans maintain their stranglehold on their one-party state, it will be a terrible defeat.
It is as simple as that.