Why the Dems Will Hold Congress in 2010

Incumbency, early preparation make 1994 redux unlikely
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 8, 2009 7:12 AM CDT
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speak outside the West Wing of the White House following a meeting with President Barack Obama.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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(Newser) – The last time a young Democrat became president, an angry debate over health care preceded a disastrous midterm election, costing the party control of both the House and the Senate. Yet it's too soon to make the easy comparison between 1994 and 2010, writes Wall Street Journal analyst Jerry Seib. Barack Obama still has higher approval ratings than Bill Clinton, and unlike in '94, "Democratic leaders have warned lawmakers earlier this time to start preparing for a tough fight."

To wrest back control, Republicans need to win 41 seats in the House and 11 in the Senate, far more than the average swing in a midterm election. What's more, only a handful of House Dems are retiring, giving the party the advantage of incumbency—and in the Senate, seven Republicans are bailing, five of them in swing states. The outcome of the health debate remains critical, but barring a huge reversal, Nancy Pelosi should retain the gavel into the next Congress, Seib predicts.