Partying Like It's 1994—Or 1946?
Ed Morrissey looks at the latest Gallup numbers on the House races this fall and writes, that polling group has, in Ed's words, "a warning of epic disaster for incumbents:"
How bad are these results? Consider the numbers from Gallup in 1994, on the eve of the last midterms that Democrats lost a majority. They had survived a 58% peak of incumbent rejection two years earlier, but lost over 5o seats in 1994 with a 49/37 split in favor of tossing incumbents.
That twelve-point split looks like a slice of heaven in retrospect. Now it’s more than three times as large at 37 points, 65/28. Moreover, it appears that Democrats fundamentally misread their previous successes. In 2006, they won the majorities when the anti-incumbent fervor peaked again at 52/38, but that actually plateaued for the next two years. As in 1992, Democrats got rescued in the election by a popular, charismatic presidential contender. Since gaining complete control in 2009, their radical agenda has created a huge backlash against incumbents.
What may be worse, independents are almost identical to Republicans in wanting to clean house. The split goes to 72/25 among unaffiliated voters, not far off from the 83/13 of Republicans. Democrats hardly have enthusiasm for incumbents, either, only preferring them over generic challengers by a 46/41 margin.
Gallup says that these results are “like nothing Gallup has seen in the past four midterm election cycles.” The results of this anti-incumbent anger could also be something we’ve not seen before, either, or at least not since 1994.
Meanwhile, Michael Barone wonders if they're numbers we haven't seen since 1946:
Recent polls tell me that the Democratic Party is in the worst shape I have seen during my 50 years of following politics closely. So I thought it would be interesting to look back at the biggest Republican victory of the last 80 years, the off-year election of 1946. Republicans in that election gained 13 seats in the Senate and emerged with a 51–45 majority there, the largest majority that they enjoyed between 1930 and 1980. And they gained 55 seats in the House, giving them a 246–188 majority in that body, the largest majority they have held since 1930. The popular vote for the House was 53% Republican and 44% Democratic, a bigger margin than Republicans have won ever since. And that’s even more impressive when you consider that in 1946 Republicans did not seriously contest most seats in the South. In the 11 states that had been part of the Confederacy, Democrats won 103 of 105 seats and Republicans won only 2 seats in east Tennessee. In the 37 non-Confederate states, in contrast, Republicans won 246 of 330 seats, compared to only 85 for Democrats.
There are some intriguing similarities between the political situation in 1946 and the political situation today.
Definitely read the whole thing, including this passage from Barone:
Those well-versed in electoral history will point out that the Republicans lost their congressional majorities in 1948, as congressional Democrats ran ahead of Truman, who beat Dewey 50%–45%, and that Republicans have never again enjoyed the House majority they had in 1947–1948. But as those versed in the history of government policy know, the congressional majorities Democrats held in 1949–1952 and 1955-1964 were not large enough to repeal the work of what Truman called, quite inaccurately, the do-nothing 80th Congress. The 1947–1948 Republican Congress eliminated wage and price controls, sharply reduced the powers of labor unions by passing over Truman’s veto the Taft-Hartley Act, and made at least a slight dent in wartime high tax rates. Those proved enduring policy successes. They also made possible the bounteous postwar economic growth which was so glaringly absent in welfare-state Britain.
Restoring the economic growth of 1994 through 2006 and ending "The Great Recession" -- an economy being dragged to a sclerotic hault by "the New New Deal" and its myriad of wasteful spending and top-down government controls, can and should be one of the goals of the next Congress, if indeed, the map is painted red in November.
For more on whether or not that will happen, check out Steve Green, who's also handicapping the House races.