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2010 as 1994

2010-1994There’s been an increasing amount of talk about 2010 being a repeat of 1994, when Republicans took back both the House and Senate in a stunning rebuke to a Democratic president who tried to radically reform America’s health care and otherwise enact social changes the country wasn’t ready for.

President Obama allegedly scoffed at the suggestion, bragging, “Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me.”  We’ll see, of course, but Bill Clinton wasn’t exactly a slouch, either.

As noted yesterday, I believe the Republicans face an uphill fight to win 41 House seats.  And 9 more Senate seats won’t be easy, either.  But good news continues to pour in.  And, no, I’m not referring to the John Edwards sex tape.   One of these things has already happened and it’s quite conceivable that all of them will by November:

Democrats Lose President Obama’s Old Senate Seat

There’s an incredible backlash still remaining against former Governor Rod Blagojevich and the Democrats seem to have found the worst possible three candidates — aside from Blagojevich or incumbent Roland Burris — to try to keep the seat in their hands.  And moderate, charismatic Republican Congressman Mark Kirk would be difficult to beat, anyway.

Democrats Lose Vice President Biden’s Old Senate Seat

For reasons not entirely clear, Delaware AG Beau Biden has  decided not to run for his dad’s seat, despite the Democrat’s strange dance to keep the seat warm for him with a placeholder appointment.  That means an open seat in a bad year for Democrats.

Democrats Lose Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Senate Seat

Nevada is a Red State long represented by likable, moderate Democrat Harry Reid.  Alas, for the past several years, likable, moderate Democrat Harry Reid has been, by virtue of attaining the highest honor available to a Senator, the position of Majority Leader,  forced to be compromising, polarizing Democrat Harry Reid.  Worse, by dint of a Democratic president with an ambitious agenda, Reid has been forced to carry the water on health care reform, a massive stimulus package, and other programs wildly unpopular back home.   It’s quite likely to cost him his seat come November.

Democrats Lose Ted Kennedy’s Old Senate Seat

As you may be aware, this one already happened.

Now, all of these have idiosyncratic explanations tied at least partly to local circumstances.  But they’re, to say the least, not good signs for the Democrats.   And, if all four of these happen — and one already has — the odds of the Republicans picking up another 5 seats (including, say, a Joe Lieberman switch) are quite good.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. yetanotherjohn says:

    Wouldn’t the GOP need to pick up 10 seats to switch the senate? I mean the comedic effect of putting Biden to dayly interact with the press would be fun, but 50 seats would just mean Biden would be the tie breaker vote.

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  2. James Joyner says:

    Wouldn’t the GOP need to pick up 10 seats to switch the senate?

    Good point. Then again, I’m sure some current Democrat would search his conscience and decide that the party has left him and he owes it to himself and his constituents to become a Republican.

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  3. kth says:

    And, if all four of these happen — and one already has — the odds of the Republicans picking up another 5 seats (including, say, a Joe Lieberman switch) are quite good.

    That’s sort of like saying, if the Astros win 4 in a row (after they’ve won one), the odds are pretty good that they can stretch it to 10. First, you don’t have the first 4 yet, and even if you did, it would still have to be a perfect storm for all of those chips to fall just right.

    Losing the Illinois and Delaware seats would be embarrassing. But Scott Brown doesn’t have a full 6 years; unless he breaks significantly with his party, he’ll be gone when his term ends in 2012. And Nevada is naturally a red-leaning state.

    I do think it has been a bad idea for recent Senate Democratic Leaders to come from small magenta (redder than blue) states. Not just Reid and Daschle, but Mitchell, Byrd, and Mansfield before that. It seems to me that you want someone from closer to the middle of the caucus, who is less vulnerable to defeat, and able to lead more vigorously. Probably we’ll get that in the new year, when Reid goes down and is replaced by Dick Durbin of Illinois.

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  4. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    You left out Boxer, who is polling at less than 50% against unknowns. Carly Fiorina has more money to spend than Boxer. Evan Bayh is in trouble as well as Lincoln in Nebraska. I think the anger in America is much larger than what some polls show judging by the size of the tea party people who showed up at the Capital on July 4. The Democrats are not listening to the American people and they will pay a huge price. Obama is wrong, it is not the message, it is the policy. 60 to 70 house seats and control of the Senate are quite possible and probable. If Republicans run on issues they win just like Scott Brown.

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  5. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Yes James, those local circumstances are Obama’s leftist policies. Brown represented the 41 vote against Obamacare. Brown represents a return to what we want done with enemy combatants. All politics my be local but the seat Brown won, by a good size margin, has not been held by a Republican for decades. Massachusetts is a blue state. Maybe the bluest of states. If you cannot find more significance in Brown winning Kennedy’s long held senate seat, even after Obama came to town to bad mouth him, maybe you should consider a different field of endeavor.

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  6. UlyssesUnbound says:

    Evan Bayh is in trouble as well as Lincoln in Nebraska.

    Really? That’s not a snark comment–I want to know in your assessment how this is true.

    Bayh is a centrist democrat in a red state who has 80% name recognition and a campaign treasure chest of (I think at last count) $13 million. He has two ‘credible’ ‘challengers’ polling right now, but one isn’t really credible and one isn’t even a challenger.

    Don’t get me wrong here–I would love for your statement to be true! But do you have any sort of facts to back this up?

    Right now Rasmussen has Hostettler behind by 3. Hostetler may be able to attract the teabag crowd, however that crowd is fairly small in Indiana. At most political events I organizer or attend, at most the various far-right organizations can muster is 3 or 4 people. The tea-party events in Indy, West Lafayette, Evansville, and Fort Wayne have had incredibly small attendence. So even if the fringe throws their support behind Hostettler, its not going to be enough for an immediate win. It comes down to funding: Hostettler is renowned as possibly the worst fundraiser in Indiana, and Evan Bayh has $13 million in his campaign chest, and the state democratic party ready to support him wholeheartedly.

    Pence is polling well against Bayh, but Pence isn’t running, yet. If he does throw his hat in the ring, he will at least have a fundraising apparatus already in place. That apparatus, however, is very centralized to his district. He’ll need a much bigger, state-wide fundraising apparatus to overcome Bayh’s juggernaut. Good luck with that.

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  7. James Joyner says:

    You left out Boxer

    Several incumbent Democrats are in serious danger. I was pointing to four truly symbolic possibilities: losing the seats vacated by the current President and Vice President, the Senate Majority Leader, and the most iconic Senate Democrat in generations.

    If you cannot find more significance in Brown winning Kennedy’s long held senate seat, even after Obama came to town to bad mouth him, maybe you should consider a different field of endeavor.

    There’s plenty else to read into that election, which I’ve discussed in previous posts. It’s not exactly a Massachusetts realignment — the Dems got cocky and nominated a lousy candidate — but it’s at least partly a referendum on Obama and the health care bill.

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  8. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by JihadMonitor: 2010 as 1994 http://bit.ly/7ffBQa

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  9. ulyssesunbound says:

    Just to update from my last comment–Mike Pence just announced he would not run for the Senate seat.

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