Midterm election: A correction or a rebuke?

First thoughts: The Corrections


In a way, midterms serve as a midcourse correction of sorts to the previous presidential contest, especially a president's first midterm cycle. Political observers sometimes forget this fact since Republicans -- due largely to 9/11 and its aftermath -- actually gained seats in George W. Bush's first midterm. Here are the numbers: Since World War II, a president's party has lost, on average, nearly 25 House seats and four Senate seats in a midterm cycle. The numbers are essentially the same in a president's FIRST midterm, 25.5 House seats and 2.5 Senate seats. (However, the average is lower -- nearly 20 House seats and slightly more than one Senate seat -- if you don't count Truman's and Ford's first midterms in 1946 and 1974 because they had assumed office instead of being elected to it.)

*** But not your average correction: That said, all signs are pointing to this NOT being an average midterm cycle for President Obama's party. Our current Voter Confidence Index stands at -41. To put that into perspective, the VCI was -35 in 1982, when Ronald Reagan's party lost 26 House seats; it was -30 in 1994, when Democrats lost 54 House seats; and it was -65 in 2006, when Republicans lost 30 House seats. Right now, both the Cook Political Report and the Rothenberg Political are projecting Republicans to pick up 40 to 50 House seats. They need to net 39 to take control of the chamber. By the way, what's really making that 40-50 prediction seem more likely by the day: the fact that more Democratic seats are moving into the "battleground." We're up to more than 100 Democratic seats in play now (what we count as in play are incumbents we think will poll under 60% on election day or even 55%).

Comment: My own take is that if Harry Reid is defeated AND the Dems lose the House (Pelosi out as Speaker of the House), that the midterms will be a giant slap in Obama's face!

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