With yesterday's Georgia runoff victory by Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss (who, to remind you, first earned his seat in 2002 by attacking the patriotism of Max Cleland, a veteran who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam. Chambliss stayed out of Vietnam by receiving 5 student deferments and then a medical deferment for knee problems. You know, Sen. Chambliss, Max Cleland has knee problems too; his knees are still in Vietnam!), the Democrats lost the last faint glimmer of hope that they'd reach a filibuster-proof 60 Senate seats. To review, it takes 60 votes to invoke cloture and stop debate to call for a vote on a bill; without 60 votes, one Senator can talk and talk and talk, keeping a bill from being passed. So it looks like the Democrats will wind up with 58, or possibly 59, if Franken wins in Minnesota, where the recount is finishing up. Even though they'll need to find a couple GOP cloture votes, along with unanimous support from within their own party, in order to pass a bill, they have several very good GOP targets to find a few more votes.
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) is up for re-election in 2010, and he's in the unenviable position of being a Republican in a state that has voted for a Democrat for President every year since 1988, including a huge 11% victory by Obama. It will be very difficult for Specter to resist a President so popular among his constituents. It also helps that Specter is about the most liberal GOP Senator.
His competition for that title include Sens Olympia Snow and Susan Collins of Maine, which went for Obama by 18%. So there's two more pickups that should be pretty easy for one bill or another.
Richard Burr (R-NC), Norm Coleman (R-MN, assuming he beats Franken), John Ensign (R-NV), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Richard Lugar (R-IN), and George Voinovich (R-OH) are all Republicans from states which made significant shifts toward the Democrats/Obama in '08. They'll no doubt be more persuadable than they might have been in the past when it comes to voting for cloture on a Democratic bill
As long as Obama remains popular and politically strong, it shouldn't be too difficult to find some Republican votes. So screw Georgia! They can keep their stupid Republican Senator,