Politics

Democratic Party: Low as a Nixon-Felled GOP, Heading for the New 1994?

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Inveterate politics watcher Michael Barone thinks so:

I have not seen a party's fortunes collapse so suddenly since Richard Nixon got caught up in the Watergate scandal and a president who carried 49 states was threatened with impeachment and removal from office.

The victory of a Democrat in the special election to fill Vice President Gerald Ford's House seat in February 1974 was a clear indication that the bottom had fallen out for the Republican Party. Brown's victory last week looks as if something similar has happened to the Democratic Party.

Many people ask me whether the Democrats are in as much trouble as they were in 1994. The numbers suggest they are in much deeper trouble, at least at this moment. Back in 1994 I wrote the first article in a nonpartisan publication suggesting that the Republicans had a serious chance to win the 40 seats necessary for a majority in the House. That article appeared in U.S. News & World Report in July 1994.

This year political handicapper Charlie Cook is writing in January, six months earlier in the cycle, that Republicans once again would capture the 40 seats they need for a majority if the House elections were held today. I concur. The generic vote question—which party's candidates would you vote for in House elections—is at least as favorable to Republicans as it was in the last month before the election in 1994.

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  1. It isn’t my fault!

  2. They still have three more years to figure out the obvious: A vote against the McCain continuation of the Bush administration is not a vote for a wildly expanded welfare state.

    “You’re not someone I completely hate” doesn’t mean “I love you!”

    1. And that’s how we end up with stalkers.

    2. I thought everybody loved you SF?

      1. They don’t? Wha?

    3. Yet… we still ended up with a continuation of the Bush administration policies. Why the progressive movement isn’t holding its own version of tea parties where they burn effigies of the president is beyond my ability to comprehend.

      1. Because he’s black. And because he was hailed as the Liberal Messiah and the progressives are too proud to admit they were wrong.

        But mostly because he’s black.

        1. He’s black now? I thought he was Hawaiian?

  3. Was I the only one to totally not see this coming? When Obama was elected, I thought public resentment toward the Republican Party was so strong that both Congress and the presidency would be dominated by the Democrats for years to come, and I scoffed at those who suggested that the trend of the party losing the presidency gaining control of Congress two years later would continue. The quick reversal of fortunes we’re seeing is a testament to the amazing volume of incompetence the Democrats have crammed into the past year.

    1. No. It’s just that I’ve been too busy to expain what I’m doing. That will be corrected this evening.

      1. I voted for you and now I hate myself. But not as much as I hate you!

        1. You don’t have to hate yourself, because I’m doing it for you.

          1. Oh, thank you Brandybuck! I heart you for your hate.

    2. See SF’s post above. If Obama had come in and started winding down Iraq and Afghanistan and starting clearing out Gitmo and left health care well enough alone, and avoided a big stimulus package and tried to end TARP as fast as possible and basically been the anti-Bush without going left-wingy, the Dems would be about to add seats in the midterm. And his reelection would be guaranteed.

      1. And if that lion had not eaten the drunk that wandered into her cage we would not have had to put her down.

        1. Exactly. It’s in their natures to behave the way they have. A smart, long-term position would’ve been to deal with the economic crisis, even if that meant tax cuts and other free-marketish actions, then, when the recovery got in swing, start with the neo-socialist agenda. Good thing they’re ignorant as well as arrogant.

    3. I think Rush Limbaugh saw it coming. But I hardly ever hear his show any more 🙁

    4. The quick reversal of fortunes we’re seeing is a testament to the amazing volume of incompetence the Democrats have crammed into the past year.

      President Woodrow Wilson, who in the end of his second term was an absolute disaster for the Democratic Party, at least managed to maintain Democratic majorities in Congress for the first six years.

      For the Dems of today to be worse than their 1910’s predecessors…

    5. Was I the only one to totally not see this coming?

      All of us who took the trouble to vet Obama before the election saw it coming, because he is exactly what we thought he was.

      But truthfully, I didn’t think it would happen so quickly.

  4. The LP needs to make some sort of move now. It’s the best shot they’ll get. Unfortunately, I have no idea what that move might be.

    1. An Cosmotarian attack launched from the Reason sky box in the House chamber tonight.

      Their ceramic broadswords will never be detected by the metal detectors.

  5. Was I the only one to totally not see this coming?

    Naah. Plenty of Dem insiders totally fell for the I Am the One scam and believed that Obama could magically transform the US from a center-right country to a Euro-style socialist state.

    Its as true for politics as it is for investing: the most dangerous phrase is “this time its different.” Start believing that, and you’re road-kill.

    For anyone who wasn’t slurping the kool-aid, the only surprise is how fast the collapse came.

    1. “Its as true for politics as it is for investing: the most dangerous phrase is “this time its different.” Start believing that, and you’re road-kill.

      For anyone who wasn’t slurping the kool-aid, the only surprise is how fast the collapse came.”

      It’s true

  6. Does anybody have a historical perspective on the current trend of incumbents abandoning ship and declining to even attempt to get re-elected?

    It seems to me much higher than I ever remember, but I try not to pay that much attention.

  7. I have no idea what that move might be.

    How about a bake sale?

  8. How about a bake sale?

    As long as they’re selling the special brownies.

    1. If the money is going for the Air Force to bomb public schools I’ll buy 2!

  9. “Many people ask me whether the Democrats are in as much trouble as they were in 1994. The numbers suggest they are in much deeper trouble, at least at this moment.”

    All this over a little election in Massachusetts? Really?

    The victory of a Democrat in the special election to fill Vice President Gerald Ford’s House seat in February 1974 was a clear indication that the bottom had fallen out for the Republican Party.

    That election took place in the wake of the Watergate scandal! The Saturday Night Massacre had happened just a couple months before! Hello? History may repeat itself someday, but things are not like they were then.

    So, anyway, there was a lot more going on in ’74 than just the bottom falling out of the economy (or the Republican Party). There was Watergate, Nixon betraying his base in a number of fundamental ways, ways that Obama never could, there was Vietnam, which really isn’t comparable in this context…

    I don’t know if Congress is gonna party like it’s 1994 in this mid-term, maybe it will. But I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that if it does, the opponents of big government will still be the biggest losers.

    1. Do you have a time machine or something or was that part of your major?

  10. There’s a problem when you through the bums out: You only end up with newer bums.

  11. Was I the only one to totally not see this coming?

    Outside the openly pro-Obama and the pseudo-libertarian anti-Republican camps, maybe.

    I don’t seek out liberal or progressive opinion, because it’s a ubiquitous and undifferentiated same-shit-different-name market that only talks to itself, but among conservatives and un-cosmo libertarians and “other,” the “McCain would be worse” argument I saw most often was that McCain and Obama didn’t differ much, policy-wise, but McCain would mostly have been publicly opposed dishonestly (or supported weakly) by people who share his views but not his party identification (or vice versa). Obama, doing basically the same shit with a more shitty attitude, could be opposed honestly, and he’d only defended by true believers and outright liars, so there might be a broad anti-Democrat backlash like in ’94.

    It looks like that was at least half right.

  12. There’s a problem when you through the bums out: You only end up with newer bums.

    In general, the newer bums have less highly developed Bum Fu skills; the trick is to keep the rate of bum churn high enough to stymie the worst impulses of the bummatarians.

    1. Yeah. Maybe the problem is that the same lobbyists keep writing the bills no matter who gets elected now.

  13. I’m not overly confident. The poll numbers may be looking good just because Obama’s fanbase has gone dormant for the time being. But I don’t think they’ve disappeared. His loyal troops will emerge again to campaign for the congressional elections this fall.

    Plus, in 1994, Republicans had been out of power (in Congress) for 40 years. People had no great reason to hate them, and were basically tired of the D’s.

  14. I can’t wait for the Republicans to regain power so that we can get back to addressing the important issues, like gay marriage, human cloning, and which new land war in Asia to start next.

  15. I will be voting for the libertarian candidate. if the libertarian party doesn’t run someone where I am then I will probably vote for the incumbent democrat, but only because he voted against the bailouts and because he is somewhat of a conservative democrat; you have to be somewhat conservative where I’m from or he wouldn’t have had a chance at winning any votes in the rural areas. but I would bet that the republicans will win a majority.

  16. Was I the only one to totally not see this coming?

    To be honest, given the weight of history on his shoulders of being the first African-American president, I assumed he would have driven his horrible agenda forward at a cautious 55 mph instead of the reckless 125 mph at the upcoming curve of accumulated debt that lies in front of a brick wall of economic paralysis as to not fuck it up for the chances of the next African-American who seeks the presidency, however, I underestimated the fact that he is a democrat and that means he can’t see past the extent of his belly button.

    My bad.

  17. Got this little note someone wished to share:

    as to not fuck it up for the chances of the next African-American who seeks the presidency

    Tell me about it. Like GWB fucked up the chances for the last white guy who sought the office.

    Regards,
    Johnny M.

  18. The best case scenario is for Republicans to win, and retain, control of at least one house of congress; and for Obama to win re-election in 2012. That way we will have a divided government (which is the best chance we have for keeping the deluge of spending in check) and a relatively reasonable foreign policy with Obama at the helm.

    I haven’t kept track of what Libertarian Party is doing or whether the Tea Party protesters are actually getting organized to run candidates under their own name. If either of these groups is in a position to do something significant in November, they should make a secret backroom deal with Republicans to stay out of each other’s way to the extent possible.

    In any close race between a somewhat fiscally conservative Republican and a pro-massive-spending Democrat, these third party groups should stand down.

    In exchange, the Republicans could agree that in districts where they have nobody in mind to run anyway, they will support a Libertarian or Tea Party nominee. Alternatively, the Republicans could offer to let the Libertarian Party choose the Republican candidate for at least one house seat where the Republicans have an easy win ? with the understanding that this person would leave the Republican party upon taking office and serve as a full-fledged Libertarian party member (possibly the only way the LP could get someone in congress under its own banner in the near future).

    Of course, in either case, they’d probably want the Libertarians to actually vet the nominee first, so the LP would have to learn how to do that.

    The last thing fiscal conservatives and moderates need to do is split the “the government is spending too fucking much!” vote in close elections.

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