Tuesday, September 9, 2014

US Senate Outcomes 2004 v. 2012

Election year 2012 should have been a banner year for the Republican Party.

Obama was growing more unpopular by the day because of Obamacare.

His poor handling of Benghazi, plus the concerns about IRS harassment and the unsustainable debt were getting more people's attention.

Romney seemed to be polling ahead in key swing states, and the former Massachusetts' governor did a splendid job taking down the incumbent President in the first debate.

Nevertheless, time and legacy  worked for Obama, since it is very rare for a incumbent President to lose without facing a primary challenge or an ideological parallel in a third party.

Such was the case with Obama.

Now, in spite of Obama's victory in 2014, his results were less than stellar, for he hardly won a mandate from the voting electorate. In fact, his win was interesting in that he won fewer states and electoral votes than in 2008.

A rare ending, and one indicating a diminished enthusiasm for his reelection. Despite his win, the Republicans managed to hold onto the House of Representatives (albeit losing some key seats in the process)

Now, pundits also claimed that the Democratic Party were facing greater challenges to keeping their US Senate majority in 2012, since Dems had to defend 21 seats, plus two which sided with the Democrats. The Republicans only had to defend ten seats.

2004 Senate election map.svg
2004 US Senate Results
Light Red: GOP Gain --- Dark Red: GOP Hold
Light Blue: Dem Gain --- Dark Blue: Dem Hold
(Source: Wikipedia)

In 2004, the last election cycle with an incumbent President at the top of the ticket running for reelection, Democrats were defending nineteen seats compared to fifteen for the Republicans.

That year, the parity in the US Senate was much closer, with Republicans holding 51 seats versus the Democrats, with 48 plus one Independent voting with them (Jim Jeffords of Vermont).

In 2004, Bush was growing more unpopular because of the War in Iraq and other foreign policy issues (the expansion of Homeland Security, plus a hostile media exposing his personal and rhetorical slips). Michael Moore's partisan documentary "Fahrenheit 9-11" attempted to paint the President as insufferable and uncaring warmonger ("Celsius 41.11" countered the liberal narrative with strong support for Bush's; foreign policy)

In spite of the waning support for Bush, Republicans took in a net gain for four seats, even though GOP contender won six contests. Two losses (Colorado and Illinois) diminished the outcome.

Still, for the Republican Party to win four seats, follow to previous cycles of denying majority status to the Democratic Party, was an impressive feat.

Compare 2004 with 2012, and the lackluster showing for the Republican Party does not look so bad.
2012 Senate election results map.svg
2012 US Senate Results
Light Red: GOP Gain --- Dark Red GOP Hold
Light Blue: Dem Gain --- Dark Blue: Dem Hold
Light Yellow: Ind. Gain --- Dark Yellow: Ind. Hold
Republicans anticipated conservative Democratic Ben Nelson's seat in Nebraska, since the Midwestern state never lost its growing conservative streak, and Nelson's support for Obamacare (including the Cornhusker Kickback) so offended his constituents that he had no chance of winning reelection.

Republican operatives were greatly disappointed by otherwise sure wins, like Todd Akin's loss in Missouri and the Democratic gain in Indiana following GOP Richard Lugar's primary loss to Richard Mourdock, and his subsequent failure to Joe Donnelly, following a mismanaged campaign and poor comments in a key debate.

Republicans also lost Massachusetts, a state where a state senator Scott Brown had to win reelection in his own right, losing by five points. Another Republican incumbent, Olympia Snowe of Maine, declined to run again, and liberal-leaning Independent Angus King won the seat, giving the Democrats another vote in the US Senate.

Republicans gained one seat, but lost three. Compared to the comparable losses suffered by Democrats in 2004, the Republican losses really were not that bad.

In 2004, Republicans won six contests, including the defeat of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle against John Thune. That win was a stunning loss for the Democrats, compounding the much-needed soul searching from DNC Chairman Howard Dean.

With 2014 looking better for Republicans to accomplish the unprecedented (media pundits are suggesting a four to eight seat sweep, removing at least four incumbents from office), Republicans may outperform Democratic gains in 2006, when GOP President Bush was slogging through his six year, and the incumbent's party historically suffers staggering losses in Congress, anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment