Less than a year after their decisive electoral victory, it is starting to look like the Democrats may lose substantial ground in the 2010 midterm elections. According to a Pew Research Center poll just 37 percent of Americans view Congress favorably, the smallest percentage in 24 years of polling. And President Obama’s approval rating recently dipped to 50%, down from 70% when he came into office. Charlie Cook recently told The Cook Report subscribers that “the situation has slipped completely out of control for President Obama and congressional Democrats.”
Now Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com tells Politico that Republicans will probably pick up between 20 and 50 seats in the House next year, and may even have as much as a one in three chance of winning back control of it. As Silver explains,
A lot of Democratic freshman and sophomores will be running in a much tougher environment than in 2006 and 2008, and some will adapt to it, but a lot of others will inevitably freak out and end up losing. Complacency is another factor: we have volunteers who worked really hard in 2006 and 2008 for Obama, but it’s less compelling [for them] to preserve the majority.
According to Politico even Democratic officials privately expect to lose at least 10 House seats.
None of this is particularly surprising. The party that is in power has lost seats in 10 of the last 12 midterm elections. Actually governing is hard, and it is always difficult for a party to make good on its electoral promises. And the poor economy has put the Democrats in a difficult position. Even so if the Democrats are able to enact meaningful health care reform or the economy starts to improve the electoral landscape will look very different.
Still, some of the dissatisfaction with the Democrats seems to stem from their inability to get much done in spite of being having substantial majorities in both houses of Congress. The problem is that even without an effective Republican opposition, it is impossible at least in the short run to please both Democratic Party’s progressive base and the increasingly influential independent voters who brought Obama into power. And in their efforts to please everyone, the Democrats have managed so far to please almost no one.