Dems will keep majority; three reasons – economy, campaign spending, and messaging
Kaplan 7/15/10, – Slate intern (Rebecca, “The Lessons of 1982”, http://www.slate.com/toolbar.aspx?action=print&id=2260630
July 15, 2010)
It's a foregone conclusion that the Democrats will lose seats in November. It's not just that the luck of 2006 and 2008—when they gained 30 and 23 seats, respectively—has run out. Conditions have changed. Sure, Democrats control both chambers of Congress and the White House. ButPresident Obama's approval rating is hovering at an anemic 45 percent. The economy isn't seeing the kind of recovery a party in power wants before an election. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin is doing her best to stir up angry voters who might otherwise stay home during an off-year contest. So speculation is running rampant, particularly in the media and especially among Republicans (and White House spokesman Robert Gibbs), that 2010 could be a replay of the Democrats' lowest political moment in the last half-century: the 1994 midterms, when Republicans seized 52 seats in the House and eight in the Senate, taking control of Congress for the first time in 40 years. But the similarities between 2010 and 1994 are superficial. The more relevant election—the one that gives a better gauge of the magnitude of losses the Democrats may see—is the 1982 midterms. Although some political scientists were predicting that the Democrats would gain as many as 50 seats, on Election Day they took only 26 seats from the Republicans. What happened? And could their disappointment of 28 years ago offer reasons for Democrats to hope this year? After all, they're in the same position now—stronger, actually, since they control both houses of Congress—as the Republicans were in 1982. A quick look at three of the most important factors in any midterm election show why 2010 may be for Democrats what 1982 was for Republicans: not great, certainly, but not nearly as bad as it could have been. Theeconomy. In many respects, today's economic conditions are identical to those in 1982. The yearly change in real disposable income per capita is a key factor in predicting midterm outcomes: When their wallets are fuller, people are more likely to send their representatives back to Washington. And right now this number is almost the same as it was at this point in 1982. For the third quarter of 2010, Moody's Economy.com is predicting a 0.4 percent increase in real disposable income per capita from last year—a fairly stagnant number that does not show much economic growth for the average citizen. In the third quarter of 1982, the change in real disposable income per capita was 0.5 percent—also fairly flat. The unemployment rate is also eerily familiar; it's now pushing 10 percent, while in 1982 it was 9.7 percent. In 1994, meanwhile, the economy was in better shape than it is now or was in 1982, with a 6.1 percent unemployment rate and 2.3 percent increase in personal disposable income from the third quarter of 1993. Campaign spending. In 1982, one of the ways Republicans were able to fend off the Democratic attack was by achieving parity on campaign spending for challengers—both parties spent an average of $141,000. (You can find these data on JSTOR; login required.) It's true that, as a group, Democratic challengers did better than Republican challengers (attributed to the fact that they often ran in Democratic-leaning districts). But if Republicans had skimped on those races, Democrats probably would have come closer to their predicted 40- to 50-seat pickup. Meanwhile, in 1994, Republican challengers outspent Democratic challengers by an average of $244,042 to $152,659 and by a margin of $40,000 on open seats (data again from JSTOR). This year, although the National Republican Congressional Committee outspent the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in May, the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee outspent their Republican counterparts. The DNC and DCCC also had more cash on hand at the end of the month, which will help them later in the election. Without outspending the Democrats, it is unlikely the Republicans will be able to achieve all the pickups they are hoping for. Messaging. Perhaps the most compelling reason why 2010 won't be another 1994 is the current state of the Republican Party. With the economy the major focus of this election—as it was in 1982—the sitting president has much more power to present a unified voice on behalf of the party. This is somethingthat both Reagan did and Obama has done well.
Dems will keep the majority – better achievements than the GOP
Christina Bellantoni, 7/15/10 – senior reporter for Talking Points Memo, covering the White House and politics (July 15, “Dems To Dems: Don’t Worry! Obama Still More Popular Than Bush Was!” http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/07/dems-to-dems-dont-worry-obama-still-more-popular-than-bush-was.php)”
While many Democratic candidates this year may face tough races, polling suggests that this election is shaping up to be different in many respects than either 1994 or 2006, with Democrats in position to win close races across the country and to maintain strong majorities in both the House and Senate. In fact, Democrats today are in a greater position of strength than Democrats in 1994 or Republicans in 2006. Democrats have real accomplishments that benefit middle class families and small businesses to campaign on, an economy that is once again growing and creating jobs and a public that still remembers the disastrous consequences of failed Republican policies that cut taxes for the wealthy, cut rules for big corporations and cut the middle class loose to fend for themselves. So after 18 months of Democrats governing while Republicans in Congress have stood on the sideline and rooted for failure, Democrats are in a strong position to begin the campaign season and present voters with a clear choice: keep America moving forward or going back to the same polices that created the worst economy since the Great Depression. It's the long shadow of the failed Bush economic policies that is keeping support for Republicans at a near record lows and why support for Republicans falls short of support for the minority party in either 1994 or 2006. Thus, Republicans' continued weaknesses and low approval ratings are helping Democrats turn this election into a choice between the two parties rather than just a referendum on the party in power. Despite the downcast assessments of Democratic political fortunes, we believe that this election stands to be different than so-called "wave" elections of the past and that Democrats have every reason to be hopeful that we can weather a treacherous political climate and maintain strong majorities in the House and Senate.