Sunday, April 09, 2006

2006: Another 1994?

Howard Dean has promised the Democrats something. After recent polls showed that forty four percent of voters preferred a Democratic majority in the House, he said, "I think we will win the Congress." (See here.) In 1994, the Republicans swept the mid term elections of a president from the opposite party. The Democrats are hoping to do the same thing this year.

The Republicans of 2006 have some things in common with the Democrats of 1994. Both of them had just lost party leaders to allegations of misdoing. 1994 was the year Dan Rostenkowski, then chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, was indicted and left the House of Representatives(after losing his general election). No one needs to be reminded of the indictment of then-majority leader Tom DeLay and the guilty plea made by US Rep Randy Cunningham to charges of bribery and mail fraud. In both years, the party out of power saw their opposition disgraced.

The Democrats will have to beat fifteen Republicans to gain control of the House. The Republicans did the same thing twelve years ago by beating fifty four Democrats. (See here.) While a Democratic sweep on a much smaller scale is possible, it is unlikely. The Republicans gained only three seats in 2004. (In the last midterm election, the Democrats lost eight.) (See here.) The party in power has not had a net loss of seats since the elections of 2000. (See here.)

It happened one night, twelve years ago. The party of both the president and the House of Representatives became the minority in Congress. But, judging from the patterns of the last several years, it is unlikely to happen again.


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