Unquestionably, the most memorable phrase of the 1992 presidential contest was "It's the economy, stupid." The slogan grew out of a three-phrase sign that James Carville hung in Bill Clinton's headquarters to keep campaign workers focused: "1) Change vs. more of the same; 2) The economy, stupid; 3) Don't forget health care." Perhaps that sign should be posted in the Obama White House, given that…
Obviously, there are many variables that can drive a political party's fortune in next November's elections, but the economy and jobs dwarf all others. Polls may show a majority of Americans understan…
One of the toughest challenges for a party after it wins a big national election is matching its agenda to voters' desires. So, having ridden a message of change to back-to-back victories, the Democratic Party needed to figure out what kind of change the public actually wanted. In 2006, the key swing voters were weary of a succession of Republican scandals and had lost faith in the Iraq war. Even…
One of Vice President Joe Biden's long-standing and endearing qualities is his gift of hyperbole. The Washington Post recently quoted Biden as saying at a Democratic fundraiser that, of the 54 House seats Democrats have flipped in the last two elections cycles, "If [Republicans] take them back, this is the end of the road for what [President Obama] and I are trying to do." While he overstates the…
Recently, I had the honor of delivering the inaugural lecture at the Joe D. Waggonner Center for Bipartisan Politics and Public Policy at Louisiana Tech University. The center is named after a conservative Democrat from northern Louisiana who served in the House for 18 years, from 1961 to 1979, and sat on the Ways and Means Committee. The bipartisanship common in Waggonner's day is now studied as…
While we wait for developments in the health care fight, it's fun to have other political news to distract us. In a hardly surprising story, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won the Values Voters Summit straw poll of 597 conservative activists in Washington this past weekend. Huckabee pulled approximately 28 percent, while former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, for…
In June 1953, cartoonist Walt Kelly had one of his characters say the immortal words, "We have met the enemy and he is us." Congressional Democrats would be wise to take this line to heart. Some Capitol Hill Democrats are accusing President Obama of pushing too hard; others argue that he has not provided enough leadership or pushed hard enough. Although Obama has indeed made some critical miscalc…
As the political environment for Democrats has turned ugly, it is widely assumed the party will sustain losses in next year's midterm elections. The operative question is: How bad will those losses be? With a little over 13 months to go, that's impossible to know. Democrats desperately hope the next year will provide them with opportunities to reverse the tide and minimize losses, possibly by pic…
In assessing the severity of their current problems, Democrats have split into three distinct camps. The first, the Loyal Obamaites, is made up of those most committed to President Obama, whether or not they're on his payroll. They stress that it is a long time until November 2010 and that their party's problems are primarily driven by the economy. In their view, if the economy turns around over…
In 2014, a good political environment, a weakened Democratic President and several open Democratic-held seats in red states combined to give Senate Republicans a nine-seat gain and the majority. In 2016, the tables are turned. Republicans will defend 24 seats to just 10 for Democrats. Of those 24 seats, President Obama carried the states of five of them in 2012 by at least five points, and carried two more by one and three points. Neither party has been helped by open seats, particularly compared to the last three cycles. Democrats need five seats – or four if they retain the White House – to take back the majority. Wth two weeks before Election Day, Democrats appear to be on track to pick up between four and six seats.
The 2016 election resulted in a House breakdown of 240 Republicans and 194 Democrats, with one Louisiana seat headed to a December 10 runoff that is very likely to be won by a Republican. Democrats scored a net gain of six seats, a disappointing result for a party that had hoped to pick up more than 15 and cut the GOP's majority in half. Democrats' best hope for a majority in 2018 would be an unpopular President Donald Trump. But given Republicans' redistricting advantages and how well sorted-out the House has become, it could still be very difficult for Democrats to pick up the 24 seats they would need.
The 2016 cycle will host 12 gubernatorial contests, including the special election in Oregon. Democrats are defending eight seats to four for Republicans. The marquis contests will be the Democratic-held open seats in Missouri, New Hampshire and West Virginia, and in North Carolina where GOP Gov. Pat McCrory is seeking a second term. With so few seats on the ballot, neither party is likely to make significant gains or sustain big losses.
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Charlie Cook's Column
The Unfolding Republican NightmareMay 23, 2017
If a Democrat had a nightmare a year ago, it might well look like what happened in last November’s elections. If a Republican had a nightmare on the eve of President Trump’s inauguration, it might well look like the last 118 days. After a presidential campaign that was, start to finish, the strangest in memory, this has been the strangest transition and first four months of...Read more »
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