The 2010 Midterm Elections
Readers of this blog know that I think the 2008 election marked a realignment. The fact that GOP will pick up seats in 2010 does not undermine that conclusion. After all, the President’s party almost always loses seats in his first midterm (1934 is the only exception). If the GOP actually wins control of Congress, though, that’s a different story. As far as I can tell, only in 1954 and 1994 did the President’s party do that poorly in its first midterm. More important, no realigning election was ever followed by such a sharp reversal. Indeed, if the GOP pulls off another 1994, then the more relevant precedent might be the anti-Populist backlash of the 1890s (which happens to be the subject of my next book). If that happens, there’ll be plenty of time to talk about how Bryan’s defeat relates to the Obama Administration’s problems.
No matter what happens in November, the most important substantive issue will be whether the repeal of the health care legislation remains a live debate in 2012. If the GOP concludes that this was a winner for them in 2010, then 2012 will be a referendum on that topic. Moreover, to the extent that this debate continues, it increases the probability that the courts will take a hard look at the constitutionality of the individual health insurance mandate, as they feel the popular breeze blowing in a new direction.