THE BATTLE IN WISCONSIN: A TONE-SETTER FOR 2012?

Over the course of the last few months, MSNBC political commentator (and host of “Hardball”) Chris Matthews has popularized the idea that the 2012 presidential election will be decided in a swath of terrain “from Scranton to Oshkosh.” To Matthews, this is “the industrial center” of the nation, the part...

OBAMA AND REELECTION: ONE TERM OR TWO?

When it comes to presidents and reelection, two things seem clear. If they appear to be in control of events, they win. If events seem to be controlling them, they lose. Often the economy is their top concern, as almost certainly will be the case in 2012. In some elections,...

2010 HOUSE RESULTS: A PORTENT OF INCREASED COMPETITION?

Over the last generation a cottage industry has built up decrying the lack of competition in congressional elections. Not only have the House reelection rates been high, but so have the margins of victory. In each election from 1998 through 2008, no more than 15% of House winners were elected...

’94 AND ’10: SIMILARITIES, BUT DIFFERENCES TOO

The memorable Republican victories of 1994 and 2010 are already linked as the two largest midterm landslides of the last half century. But one was not a duplicate of the other. The GOP came out of this year’s election with more seats in the House of Representatives than they did...

THE MIDTERM ELECTION OF ’62: A REAL “OCTOBER SURPRISE”

This year’s midterm election has been compared to a number of others. But few political observers have brought up the election of 1962, whose outcome should serve as a cautionary tale as the 2010 campaign winds down. That election nearly a half century ago was redefined in its closing weeks...

A TROUBLING INDICATOR FOR BOTH PARTIES?

Virtually every leading political indicator points to a midterm election this November that could range anywhere from difficult to disastrous for Democrats. The nation’s high unemployment rate, the declining approval ratings for President Barack Obama, and the Democrats’ lingering deficit in the generic congressional ballot all paint a dark picture...

PLAYING DEFENSE IN A RECESSION

Republicans in 1982 vs. Democrats today

The political scene is not a pretty one: A new president facing his first midterm election with declining approval ratings as his party struggles to keep the upper hand in Congress – all in the midst of a darkened political environment where the unemployment rate hovers around 10%. It is...

FOR HOUSE DEMOCRATS: MORE FAVORABLE TERRAIN THAN ‘94

Editor’s Note: Following last week's article by Prof. Alan Abramowitz comparing 1994 and 2010 on the basis of open seat races, noted political author and Wall Street Journal online columnist Rhodes Cook delves into the differences between the "political terrain" of 1994 and that facing Democrats today. His smart commentary...

MIDTERMS PAST: THE ’66 PARALLEL

For months now, this election has been compared to that of 1994, when Republicans scored huge gains and won both houses of Congress. It is a decent model. But given the recent passage of health care reform – something that did not happen in ’94 – this might be a...

Hamstrung by Health Care?

Two Ways to Lose a House Majority

Each party in the last two decades has benefited from “big wave” elections to win control of the House of Representatives – the Republicans in 1994, the Democrats in 2006 and 2008, when they turned a distinct minority in the House into a solid majority. Whether 2010 will be another...

2010 PRIMARIES: GAUGING ANTI-INCUMBENT SENTIMENT

The 2010 primary season is under way, which at the congressional and gubernatorial levels is often no more than a quiet backwater in America’s electoral process. In recent years, only a few such incumbents have lost their bids for renomination, and only a handful more have had to break a...

FOR DEMOCRATS, IT’S TIME TO WORRY

For Democrats, it is officially time to worry. The party’s gubernatorial losses in Virginia and New Jersey last fall could be partially explained away as the states’ usual off-year swing to the “out” party. But Republican Scott Brown’s come-from-behind victory last week in the special Massachusetts Senate election for Ted...

BIPARTISANSHIP AT LAST?

The Parties Fashion the 2012 Presidential Nominating Process

Not far removed from the shouting, sniping, and long elbows the two parties regularly display on Capitol Hill, the Democrats and Republicans are actually working together on something important--an overhaul of the presidential nominating process for 2012. Just down the hill, at the headquarters of the Democratic and Republican national...

’09 ELECTIONS: SOME PARTING THOUGHTS

No doubt off-year elections can be overanalyzed. They are few in number. They sometimes give evidence of conflicting trends. And their predictive value for the midterm elections to follow has been rather conclusively debunked (see Alan Abramowitz's column here). Still, in a decade where the partisan political pendulum has stayed...

PRESIDENTS AND THEIR PARTY’S PRIMARIES

On many of the great issues of the day, President Barack Obama has drawn some criticism for a lack of decisive leadership. But he has shown little hesitation in taking sides in some high-profile Democratic primaries that could just as readily divide the party in 2010 as unite it. In...