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Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 894 -- Was 2010 Bigger Than 1994, Really?
2010 Definitely Up There, Historically-
So, was 2010 the biggest electoral tsunami in midterm history?
In some ways, maybe, sort of, yes. In other ways, let's stay realistic here:
In gubernatorial races, there were a few missed opportunities, a few more extremely close calls, and Republicans had already picked up two high profile governorships in New Jersey and Virginia during the cycle, but Republicans now control 29 of 50 states with a distinct opportunity to pick up a couple more in 2011. In legislative races, 2010 was ranked number four, but the timing (redistricting year) and context (picking up majorities in states that are gaining/losing Congressional seats next year) of Republicans picking up so many seats, in my book, puts this year at number one.
1922 was an interesting year, because even though Democrats made enormous gains due to the post-WWI recession, Republicans still held an 18-seat majority in the House of Representatives and a 10+ seat majority in the Senate, and Republicans won landslides again in 1924. Because Democrats remained in the minority after this election, and because Republicans regained so many seats in 1924, it's difficult to really call it the most monumental midterm in history.
1938 was a great year for Republicans, as Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal coalition was already coming apart. Indeed, voters rejected his increasingly expansive, activist federal government, and they weren't too happy with the economic relapse/stagnation under FDR's watch. Eventually, "it was Hoover's fault" gets old. This election, much like 1922, didn't actually return power to Republicans, though, so it's difficult to call it the most meaningful midterm election ever.
1958 was a terrible year for Republicans, following a big reelection win for Eisenhower in 1956. Why did Democrats win so strongly in 1958 and keep control of Congress for so long? They "got the band back together" and suddenly they had a coalition that didn't necessarily make sense philosophically but worked anyway, electorally. Texan Sam Rayburn served as Speaker of the House, Republicans wouldn't take back the House until 1994. Because of this enormous staying power Democrats had for generations, 1958 may have actually been the most meaningful midterm in modern history.
This is the overall ranking according to the AEI folks, John Fortier and Jennifer Marsico, but I think you have to give or take some bonus points for timing and context in some of these years.
Yes, 2010 was a stunning rebuke of the once untouchable President Obama and his legislative ally Nancy Pelosi, and the timing is great for redistricting, but Republicans still do not control the Senate, and Harry Reid well out-performed the polls in Nevada to personally hang on to power. Republicans also narrowly lost a some very winnable races that one would have assumed should have tilted Republican in such a "wave" year. In some ways, 2010 was a reversion to the mean. A return to normal. 2012 may be marked yet again by a game of inches. If Republicans can take back the Senate and make additional gains in the House in 2012, I think you will be able to move up the 2010 cycle up the list. Rarely does the Census year, just before reapportionment and redistricting, yield such major midterm gains for one party.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Obama Still Politically Potent, Not Neutered Just Yet.
Posted by Will Franklin · 16 November 2010 05:25 PM