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Can Democrats Nationalize the Election and Take Congress?


The Republican control of Congress is in danger.  A loss of 15 seats could shift control to the Democrats.  President Clinton in 1998 and President Bush in 2002 gained seats, undermining the historic rule that the party in power of the presidency loses seats in midterm elections.  As of today, most analysts believe loss of a majority is unlikely.  There are few seats out of alignment where voters are supporting Democrats for President and Republicans for Congress.  But, the 1994 Democratic debacle in which Clinton, after an especially weak first two years, lost 54 seats and Congressional control demonstrates that even in the days when most congressional seats are not competitive, a national tide can sweep over local factors and create a new political configuration.

Clinton’s approval prior to the 1994 congressional election was 46 percent (Bush’s approval in October 2005 was 39%).  Bush, who has been a frequent Colorado campaigner, may be asked to fundraise, but is unlikely to be asked to campaign.  Approval of Congress was 23 percent in 1994; it’s 29 percent today.  There is now an 11-point spread between voter preference for a Democrat Congress over a Republican congress, a record high.

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