A few nights ago, this blog predicted that the House Republicans would pick up 45-50 seats and win control of the chamber. It also predicted that Senate Democrats would lose seats but retain control. I was 2/3 right. The Republicans won control of the House for the 112th Congress. Senate Democrats retained a small majority. Instead of picking up 45-50 seats, the House Republicans gained in the neighborhood of 65 seats. This will give them a working partisan majority. Incoming Speaker John Boehner (bayner, as in the vocalization of a jackass, not boner or bonehead) and incoming Leader Eric Cantor will be able to push their agenda through the House even though it will die in the Democratic Senate.
65 is a bad neighborhood to be in if you’re a Democrat, especially if you’re a House Democrat. It means that Republicans will be in control of the House for at least two years, which, as a Democrat is bad enough for me, but, also, that the incoming Democratic Leadership, who will run the minority, has a lot of work to do to get back to majority. They’re looking at being in the high 180’s to low 190’s. They’ll have to pick up in the neighborhood of 30 seats in the 2012 election to regain majority.
They’ll need a very strong showing by President Obama in the 2012 election to regain majority. I don’t think a narrow victory by the President in 2012 will bring back a Democratic House. I think the President will have to win the popular vote by around 55%, similar to Ronald Reagan in 1980 (over Jimmy Carter), and win about 35 states. I think thats possible, considering the likely Republican competition, especially if the economy starts to improve and unemployment follows.
The good news for House Democrats is that while House Republicans are regaining most if not all of the seats they lost in 2006 and 2008, they’re also picking up Democratic seats. Potentially, a lot of freshman Republican Representatives could lose in 2012 because they represent normally Democratic districts.
As I said a few nights ago, If House Democrats lose big, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Hoyer need to step down. It’s time that House Democrats go in a new direction and elect new leadership. I would be looking at young but veteran House Democrats, especially outgoing committee chairman, who might be more interested in serving as Minority Leader and potentially the next Speaker of the House than as ranking member of a committee.
The good news for House Democrats, in an otherwise bad night, is that this is one election and, depending on how voters view the Republican House over the next two years, it could be a short time in the minority for them.