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Measuring the Woodshed

The Obama gang is going to the woodshed in two months. That's undeniable. The question is, how big a whooping will it be? Depending on who you ask, a lot of different possibilities come up.

Let's start with where the Republicans and Democrats are right now. Currently, the Republicans hold 178 House seats and 41 Senate seats, while the Democrats control 257 House seats and 59 Senate seats. Since the Civil War, in off-year elections Republicans have averaged losing 4 House seats and 1 Senate seat. Since WW2 that average shifts to an average gain of 1 House and Senate seat in off-year elections. Since the Civil War, the House and Senate have shifted by 10.0% or more on sixteen occasions, with the Republicans gaining 10.0% or more on nine of those occasions. The much-celebrated 1994 landslide was a 10.7% shift (12.4% change in House seats, 9.0% change in Senate seats). The largest shift prior to that was the 1958 election, where Democrats gained 11.0% in the House and 13.5% in the Senate.

As a rule, changes in the Senate are less dramatic than in the House. The numbers show why. To take control of the House, Republicans need to gain 40 seats, and to take control of the Senate, the Republicans need to gain 10 seats. But all 435 seats in the House are up for election this year, so the House gain needed represents a gain of 9.2%, but only 34 Senate seats are up for election, meaning the Republicans would need to gain 29.4% in the senate of the seats up for election. What's more, considering the Republicans need to gain 40 and 10 seats respectively, they really need to hold all their seats and win 40 of the 257 seats they don't already hold in the House, or 15.6% gain of the seats now held by Democrats, and they need to hold all their Senate seats and take 10 of the 16 elections for seats now held by Democrats, or 62.5% of the Senate elections for seats now held by Democrats. And those numbers start with the unlikely assumption that the Republicans would win every election in seats held by a republican right now. So, taking control of the House may be possible, but it's a real challenge to chase control of the Senate.

But can it be done? Well, in 1994 the Republicans gained 54 House seats and 9 Senate seats, in 1980 they gained 34 House seats and 12 senate seats, and in 1946 the GOP gained 56 House seats and 13 Senate seats, so yes it can be done. Won't be easy, though, especially if people get over-confident. Compare the following years to see the problem:

1980: Reagan elected in landslide, Republicans gain 34 House seats and 12 Senate seats
1982: off-year election, Republicans gain 1 Senate seat but lose 26 House seats
1984: Republicans gain 16 House seats, lose 1 Senate seat in the same year Reagan destroys Mondale
1986: Republicans lose 5 House seats and 8 Senate seats

1994: Stunning Republican victory, 54-seat gain in House, 9 in Senate
1996: Republicans lose 4 House seats, no change in Senate
1998: Republicans lose 3 House seats, no change in Senate

2004: Second Howard Dean's "Referendum" on Bush, Bush wins re-election and Republicans gain 3 House seats and 4 Senate seats
2006: Republicans lose 30 House seats and 6 Senate seats
2008: Republicans lose 24 House seats and 8 Senate seats

My point here is that even when there is reason for motivation and focus, it does not happen automatically and nothing should be assumed as given. While it is certain that the Democrats are unpopular with the public and will lose seats to the Republicans, whether that will lead to a change in control of one or both chambers of the Chamber Pot on the Potomac depends on the drive and focus of the voters, and it's more important than ever to not let this opportunity to reclaim our government slip.


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Comments (11)

The interesting thing is ho... (Below threshold)
cirby:

The interesting thing is how many Democrats are in denial about it.

Not just normal denial - really weird fantasy denial.

For instance, some of my leftie friends are really, REALLY fired up about the crazy Glenn Beck/Sarah Palin 2012 rumor. Yeah, they're OUTRAGED by the idea that the GOP will put up a Beck/Palin ticket in 2012. To the point that they're ready to fight against such a ticket, NOW.

Never mind that it just plain will not, by any chance, be happening. They want to TAKE. ACTION. NOW.

When you talk about more pressing issues, like the November elections, the subject still gets dragged back to Beck or Palin or both.

Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Actually, rearranging imaginary deck chairs on a simulation of the Titanic, at this point.

Beck, Palin and Bush = Nove... (Below threshold)
914:

Beck, Palin and Bush = November BPB derangement syndrome for the likes of Dane..

In many cases the faithful ... (Below threshold)
jim m:

In many cases the faithful on the left (what remains of them) are clearly dissociating. They won't address what's going on in the country today, they won't confront the fact that obama's policies are wildly unpopular, they won't confront that obama's policies have made the economy worse.

The focus on Palin and 2012 is symptomatic. They cannot face the current reality and find it necessary to create wild scenarios where they can gin up some excitement about their side. Notice that they cannot generate any enthusiasm about their candidates. They can only generate excitement against fictional candidacies 2 years into the future.

It's a moot issue, but I'm ... (Below threshold)
SPQR:

It's a moot issue, but I'm still mystified by what the Republicans supposedly did wrong that caused them to lose so many seats in 2006 and in 2008.

I still contend that there was something very fishy going on there, over and above the extent to which GW was viciously trashed by the media, and the effect that it had on elections for the House and the Senate.

I suspect that it had something to do with the new, computerized voting machines, which I blame for the outcome of the 2008 Presidential Election, also.

I have too much faith and too much trust in Americans to believe that there are that many people who are that stupid and that loony.

Everyone should understand ... (Below threshold)
Roy:

Everyone should understand that cognitive dissonance in liberals causes uncontrollable leg tingling.

In short jim m, they cannot... (Below threshold)
914:

In short jim m, they cannot fathom how Barry turned out to be the worst president evah.

Here's a free hint........ (Below threshold)
Gmac:

Here's a free hint.....

NEVER before in the history of this country have politicians of BOTH parties been so disabusing to the electorate.

They passed bills that were overwhelming opposed by large majorities, they meddled in primary elections where support for the incumbent was clearly going to their challenger and to top it off the (P)resident has shown he is a bigot and friend to the enemies of freedom.

This election is going to be historic in that there will be few, if any, 'conservative' Democrats remaining and Republican RINO's are rapidly becoming a dying breed through primary opposition defeats. Conservatives in this country have had enough of the BS being jammed down their throats and the ruling class elites are about to discover their power party is over now that the adults are home.

I'm personally betting that the Republican party picks up 60+ seats in the House and 11 to 13 seats in the Senate. Being an 'incumbent' this year is a detriment, in both party's.

Oh yes ... I almost forgot ... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

Oh yes ... I almost forgot to mention that the Republican party is heading in a definitive conservative direction. No more going along with their good friends in the opposition party. You're about to see what 'partisan' really means.

How big? My gut is that ev... (Below threshold)
gary gulrud:

How big? My gut is that events will turn further south before Nov. Stock market is bouncing but headed generally south. Treasuries will begin to worry folks and commodities will go stratospheric.

Therefore, Donk hopes for 1994 downside are gone-it won't be a sweep for the GOP but the Senate is gone too:

Party affiliation is now 33/32/35 or thereabouts and turnout will be abysmal among youth, mediocre among blacks, above average only for unions among Donk constituencies. GOP turnout will be nearly total.

Miller, Lee, Angle, et al., will change GOP leadership in Senate.

Obama will start with the vetoes and continue subterfuge but the daily announcements of subpoenas and investigations will wreak carnage early. The budget impasse will shut down DC and cheering ensue. Moneyed Donks will pull the trap.

Even liberal idiots in the ... (Below threshold)
Tsar Nicholas II:

Even liberal idiots in the media have figured out the Dems will be slaughtered in the House. Or at least most of them have figured that out. Anything less than GOP + 50 net House seats would be a surprise.

As for the Senate, it really depends upon how many conservatives decide to stay home and not vote, along with how some of those fringe GOP candidates in low-population-density states (e.g., Angle, Miller) fare with Main Street types, and the precise extent of Democrat voter fraud in places like Chicago and St. Louis.

> Since the Civil War, t... (Below threshold)
Arthur:

> Since the Civil War, the House and Senate have shifted by 10.0% or more on sixteen occasions, with the Republicans gaining 10.0% or more on nine of those occasions. The much-celebrated 1994 landslide was a 10.7% shift (12.4% change in House seats, 9.0% change in Senate seats). The largest shift prior to that was the 1958 election, where Democrats gained 11.0% in the House and 13.5% in the Senate.

Is there some reason discussions like this tend to ignore 1890 and 1894? The Republicans picked up 130 (one hundred and thirty!) seats in 1894, in 1890 the Dems got 86.

Since the house was less than 435 members back then, in percentage terms both swings were far more than the 12% cited in 1994.




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