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After 3 straight wave elections in which the party holding the WH was mercilessly pummelled, it was interesting to see an election in which the existing balance of power was essentially maintained.  Assuming that FL is ultimately called for Obama, on presidential level, 48 of 50 states went exactly the way now that they went in 2008.  Only 4 Senate seats changed hands, and going from Snowe to King in ME does not appear to be that big of a change.  According to the graphic currently at the top of the FP, there was only a net change of D+7 in the House after a change of (gulp) R+63 in '10, D+21 in '08, and D+28 in '06.

I have no idea as to whether this marked change from the past 3 cycles reflects basic satisfaction w/ the status quo by a plurality of Americans who voted, a perceived lack of viable alternatives, or a combination of the 2.  Below, I  will make the following observations:

1) Obama had short coattails this time.  While it was very nice to have D+2 in the Senate given the # of seats to defend, except for Warren, I'm not sure how many Dem Senate candidates really benefitted from the top of the ticket.  Dems won Senate seats in 5 states that Obama lost (WV, MO, MT, IN, and ND).  While I never gave a moment of serious thought to the prospect of being able to say "Speaker Pelosi" again, I was hoping to at least make double-digit gains.  The House that Boehner gavels to order in January will have  a party distribution that is quite similar to the distribution that Hastert gaveled to order 8 years earlier.

2) Dems benefitted mightily from the GOP nominating 5 teahadists for Senate in the past 2 cycles.  CO, NV, and DE last time and MO and IN this time were all winnable races for the GOP.   Had they won those 5 seats, the Senate would be split 50/50, and Biden would have to vote to keep a narrow plurality.  Plus, who knows what King might have done under those circumstances.

3) The GOP hold on the House will likely last at least 4 more years.  Dems did peel away 5 seats to narrow the GOP majority in 1998.  Otherwise, the party holding the WH has always suffered  in postwar year 6 elections--1950, 1958, 1966, 1974, 1986, and 2006.   The odds of the Dems picking up >20 seats and regaining a majority in 2014 are essentially nil.  Losing so badly in 2010 may, in fact, prove to be the gift that keeps on giving in House elections this decade given what happened in post-census redistricting.

4) Divided government has been the post-WW II norm in this country.  Only JFK/LBJ were able to govern for 8 years while holding both houses.  Since then, the only Dem president to govern for 4 years while holding both houses was Carter.  Bush is the only postwar Gooper to have majorities in both houses for 4 years.

5) The Dems held the House from 1954-94.   I had just turned 36 when the GOP regained it, and I was in total shock at the time.  I assumed that Dems holding House was the natural order of things.  GOP will have held House for 16 of 20 years by 2014, and, presumably, for 18 of 22 years by 2016.

I'm thrilled to see Baldwin and Warren joining the Senate and to see Sherrod Brown is coming back.  Donating to their campaigns were $ very well spent.  Bernie winning a landslide and replacing JoeMentum w/ an actual Dem were all good things.  Dumping West and Walsh were good things, too, as was Grayson's comeback.  Realizing that Boehner, Cantor, and Ryan and people even worse than them will control the body that remained a Dem bastion in the dark Reagan years is, however, highly discouraging.

Given how difficult governing was the past 2 years, I wish that we weren't looking at a distrbution of power that will be largely unchanged the next 2 years.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

    by RFK Lives on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 05:16:39 PM PST

  •  The distribution of power will be similar (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RFK Lives, seabos84, semiot, aliasalias

    The balance of power could be very different.  If the filibuster is severely curtailed in the Senate, then an actual Democratic-controlled house of Congress would counterbalance the House of Teabaggers.  

    Economic recovery will change the issues and priorities discussed.  There's a possibility that interest rates could start to rise, which would give us a very different politics than we've had in recent years.

    The president could learn the lessons of his first term and be more assertive, or he could go back to his triangulating habits again.  A lot will ride on this outcome.  I know what you think, and suspect you'll more likely be right than wrong.

    I think if Dems aggressively pursue an economic populist program and shove it down Boehner's throat, there's a good chance they'll buck the 6th year curse.  If not, Republicans will have a good 2014 and we'll probably lose the Senate.  Obama's second term rides on the next few months.

    For the love of money is the root of all evil; and while some have coveted after it, they have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10)

    by Dallasdoc on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 05:23:56 PM PST

    •  I fully agree w/ your closing sentence (5+ / 0-)

      Given the looming taxmageddon, the next 6 months will go a long way towards defining the 2d term.   I fully agree w/ this analysis of the lame duck session:

      President Obama’s re-election win last night was so scrutinized and double-scrutinized, I doubt I have anything to say about it that’s new. But the Senate races, where if the current standings hold Democrats will have won 25 of the 33 seats up for grabs last night, and expanded their majority to 55 (on the assumption that Angus King caucuses with them), deserves to be looked at more. Because it’s not just a partisan victory for Democrats, but an ideological one.

      Elizabeth Warren and Joe Donnelly and Angus King picked up seats, and all of them are to the left of what is currently in that seat on most issues, to varying degrees (obviously Warren is significantly more liberal, while the other two more in the sense that they don’t have the pressures of voting with an obstructionist minority). But there’s more. Chris Murphy is well to the left of Joe Lieberman, enough that you could call that a pickup in itself. Tammy Baldwin is way to the left of Herb Kohl. Martin Heinrich is probably a little to the left of Jeff Bingaman. Heidi Heitkamp is probably a wash with Kent Conrad. And a number of the incumbents are free to vote a bit differently given that they won’t be up for re-election for 6 years.

      You add all that up, and there’s simply no reason to do anything of value on these fiscal matters until that group arrives for the next Congress. Senate Democrats already passed a tax bill that would extend the Bush-era tax cuts on the first $250,000 of income, and lets it expire for everyone else. Their work is done, and if the House rejects it, Democrats have much more leverage to work with – and a stronger Senate caucus – next year. If the tax rates expire, they can come back with “Obama tax cuts.” If the sequester gets triggered, a better caucus can deal with it, while the executive branch delays any major effects in the first couple months of 2013. If the executive branch really wanted to, they could freeze tax withholding at 2012 levels. The only major near-term thing you have to do is extend the AMT patch for the 2012 tax year and approximately every Congress ever has managed that

      Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

      by RFK Lives on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 05:32:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  where did 8 or 9 million Dems go? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RFK Lives

      from huffpo*

      IF people want to call millions of disappeared a mandate ... whew. whatever.

      too bad they didn't deploy those messaging skills during the kill-my-soul AHIP welfare two step.

      oh well, here's HOPE-ing ...

      Seattle has 3 school board races in 2013, and, we have a toady to bill gate$ ed deform bullshit chomping at the bit to be Mayor -

      time for 2013!


      "(UPDATE: As of 2:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Obama has widened his popular vote lead. He now leads 60,193,076 or 50.4% to 57,468,587 or 48.1% with nearly all precincts reporting. Still no official word yet, however.)...

      How has the popular vote finished in other recent presidential elections? In 2008, Obama/Biden topped McCain/Palin in the popular vote 69 million to 59 million. In 2004, Bush/Cheney defeated Kerry/Edwards in the popular vote 62 million to 59 million. In 2000, Gore/Lieberman won the popular vote over Bush/Cheney 50.9 million to 50.4 million, yet lost the election due to the Electoral College."

      Who Won The Popular Vote

      Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

      by seabos84 on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 05:35:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There are a few more coming for the house (0+ / 0-)

    Yes they will have a majority but not the death grip they have had. And they know the nation is watching now. The majority is with the president. They will be more cooperative or lose bigger next time. And they know it. Boehner as much as said so today.

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