Can Democrats win in 2014?

Posted in the Minneapolis Forum

Christingle Matthews

Tempe, AZ

#1 Oct 14, 2013
There are two things everyone thinks they know about midterm elections: 1, the presidentís party always loses and 2, a presidentís second midterm is worse than the first. I suppose the phrasing gives away that Iím about to cast doubt on those ideas. OK, the first actually is true, in that the presidentís party has lost seats in the US House every midterm since the Civil War except for 1934, 1998, and 2002. Spoiler alert: Iím going to give away why those three years stand out, so if you want to figure it out yourself first, donít scroll down too far. First however, Iím going to give the good news. Namely, number 2 is wrong. Thatís good news because 2010 was a lousy midterm, and we donít want to learn from experience what worse looks like.

How can such conventional wisdom be wrong? I wonder how it became conventional wisdom to begin with. Yes, Bush Jr.ís second midterm was bad, and the second time was bad for FDR. However, Reagan and Clinton had lousy first midterms, and Eisenhower lost Congress in his. I suppose we could argue whether 1974 was Fordís one midterm or the second midterm of Nixon/Ford, but if weíre having to stretch that far to find examples, weíre really not finding a trend. First midterms seem as likely to be awful, from the presidentís partyís point of view, as the second.

There does seem to be a trend of each two-term president getting one awful midterm ó but just one. Obama had his already. That hints at hope for a happy answer to the question in the title, that yes, maybe Democrats can win next year.

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