James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Election Day: A boost to Obama’s 2012 campaign

Posted by James McPherson on November 2, 2010

So how many House seats with the Democrats lose today? A record is unlikely, thanks to modern gerrymandering by both parties. The Democrats lost a record 116 House seats in 1894, exactly 20 years after the GOP lost 96.

This election is likely to be closer to the 53 the Democrats lost in 1994, the 56 they lost in 1946, or the 57 Republicans lost in 1910. And while dramatic, it’s hardly likely to be earth-shattering (despite the claims you’ll hear tonight on the cable news networks).

Keep in mind that the GOP must pick up a net of 77 seats to have the SAME 255 seats that Democrats now hold. And even if Republicans were to win EVERY Senate seat that’s open they’d have a smaller majority there than Dems do now.

In fact, the Democrats aren’t likely to lose even enough to cost them the Senate majority. I predict they’ll end up with 51 seats, perhaps one or two more if Sharron Angle and/or Joe Miller manages to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (though we may not know the final outcome in Alaska for a couple of weeks or more).

We’ll likely have a GOP-controlled House that can’t do much because there will be a Democratic Senate (which also won’t be able to do much) and a Democratic president who will be able to campaign against a “do-nothing Congress” in his re-election bid, as Harry Truman did in 1948. We’ll have two years of gridlock, or the parties will figure out how to work together.

Either may help Barack Obama two years from now, especially if Sarah Palin runs for president and John Boehner turns out to be the kind of House leader I expect: Think Newt Gingrich with less charisma. Come to think of it, the GOP gave us that not long ago.

Also keep in mind that a lot can happen in the next two years, as I was reminded when I came across this poll last week. Two years before Obama was elected president, 37 percent of people had “never heard of him.” In a disgusting example of American ignorance, 30 percent now say the same about Boehner.

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2 Responses to “Election Day: A boost to Obama’s 2012 campaign”

  1. […] whether he deserves to or not. I pointed out that the GOP Congressional victories of 2010 would likely help, and with tongue firmly planted in cheek, my reasons have included bad graphic design by the […]

  2. […] But the NRA has latched onto a way to make the squabble into yet another way to bleed money from suckers while pressuring Congress to toe its any-gun-any-time line. In a letter to Congress, the organization supported the contempt citation — which, with the number of gutless folks eager to kiss the NRA’s brass, may actually prolong the inane process. It will still go nowhere, but will keep the issue alive for an extended period of time when Congress might instead be focusing on more important issues. And as a result, Obama gets to keep running against a partisan do-nothing Congress. […]

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