Rummaging around the innertubes yesterday I ran across this interesting exchange between blogger Brendan Nyhan and a commenter at his blog post which posited the question: “Will 2010 be like 1994?”. As that has been a frequent topic here at Wizbang, readers might find the debate between blogger and commenter quite interesting.
Nyhan offers a reasonable estimation in his attempt to handicap the outcome of the 2010 midterm elections, including a look at actual contested races, an analysis of whether Republicans can actually field an effective opposition and the demographics of 1994 versus 2010. What caught his commenter’s attention was this statement by Nyhan:
From a political science perspective, 1994 was the culmination of the long decline of Democratic dominance among whites in the South — many incumbents were vulnerable on issues like guns, gays in the military, etc. because their districts had changed. There’s no comparable regional partisan shift working against the Democrats right now.
As it turns out, his commenter was a guy named Charlie Cook, and he had this to say:
What I find interesting about this whole conversation is the lack of focus on actual Congressional districts. When you look at the 84 CD’s currently held by Democrats, that went for either Bush 2004 or McCain 2008, the 48 Democratic seats that went for Bush and McCain, the 54 seats that were in Republican hands four years go, it is very clear that the party’s vulnerability exceeds their margin of 40 seats.
I was interested in your comment, “There’s no comparable regional partisan shift working against the Democrats right now.”
Have you been in the South lately? The level of anti-Obama, anti-Democratic and anti-Congress venom is extraordinary, and with 59 Democrat-held seats in the region, 22 in or potentially in competitive districts, this is a very serious situation for Democrats. I have had several Democratic members from the region say the atmosphere is as bad or worse than it was in 1994.
This is not just about President Obama. It is anti-Congress and anti-Democratic Congress.
There is a tectonic shift at work in American politics today. Regionalism is a part of this shift. But the change movement that is simmering now is the manifestation of larger issues that transcend regionalism, among them individual liberty (ObamaCare), State’s rights (Cap and Trade), national security (Holder investigation of the CIA) and a sound dollar (Federal Reserve secrecy). Oh, and unemployment (look at all the charts at the link).
The American South has a long history of acting as something of a national barometer that measures the tension between citizens and their government. That barometer is clearly signaling a major storm. But the cause of this political storm is, and always has been, policy.