FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

When “Moderate” Democrats Lead the Ticket and Win, Down-Ballot Candidates Soon Suffer Losses

Many mainstream Democrats claim if “democratic socialist” Sanders were their party’s presidential nominee, many party candidates running in down-ballot races would lose in races they should win. They warn that a Sanders’ led ticket could result in the Democrats not regaining control of the Senate and even losing their majority in the House along with many state positions.

With Biden set to secure the nomination, the message is those candidates seeing themselves most at risk should supposedly now feel more comfortable about their chances.

If history is any guide, when supposedly more acceptable and desirable “moderate” candidates have gone on to win the presidency—Clinton and Obama—in subsequent elections during both of their presidencies, the Democrats have not done very well.

When Clinton captured the White House in 1992, Democrats lost 1 seat in the Senate and 9 in the House, but they kept their large majorities. The new Congress had 57 Democrats to 43 Republicans in the Senate and 258 Democrats to 176 Republicans in the House.

With the 1994 election, the Democrats lost their majorities in both bodies. The results were 47 Democrats to 53 Republicans in the Senate and 204 Democrats to 230 Republicans in the House. However, the Democrats did not decide to abandon Clinton in 1996 despite this dismal showing. After the 1996 election, the Democrats had two fewer seats in the Senate while picking up just 3 seats in the House but remaining 11 seats short of having a majority.

The following table shows the number of seats held by the Democrats just before the election of Clinton (1991) followed by election results after each election from the year Clinton was elected to the last election held during his presidency.[1]

The Obama record is not much different. After his election in 2008, the Democrats had commanding majorities in both the Senate and the House. They picked up 7 seats in the Senate giving them 55 that soon became 58, and 21 in the House resulting in them having 256 members to 178 Republicans. Two years later, perhaps because the hope people projected on Obama resulted in disappointment, the Republicans captured the majority of seats in the House as the Democrats lost 63 seats.[2] The Democrats still held the majority in the Senate, but their number of seats declined to 51. Then, after the 2014 election, the number of Democrats in the Senate dropped to 44, making them the Senate minority party ever since.

The following table shows the number of seats held by the Democrats just before the election of Obama (2007) followed by the election results after each election from the year Obama was elected to the last election held during his presidency.

Perhaps more dismal for Democrats are the losses in the states during the time both Clinton and Obama occupied the White House. In 1990, the Democrats controlled both legislative houses in 29 states. When Clinton won the presidency in 1992, the number they controlled declined to 26 falling to 16 when he left office after the 2000 election. During Clinton’s presidency, the Republicans more than doubled their control of both house of state legislatures from 7 to 18.

When Obama was elected in 2008, the Democrats picked up control of 4 more state legislatures raising their total to 27. When he left office, the Democrats controlled just 14 while the Republicans again more than doubled their total from 14 to 32.

During Obama’s time in office, the number of Democratic governors also declined. With his election, the total number of Democratic governors increased by 6 to 28. After the 2014 election, they totaled 21 declining to only 18 after the 2016 election.[3]

These losses in the states have paved the way for effective voter suppression efforts causing much harm to the prospects of Democrats.

In the table below, the first year listed is the total before the elections of Clinton and Obama.[4] Note: Nebraska has a one-house legislature.

1972 Election: When a Real Liberal Headed the Democratic Ticket

Nixon won over 60% of the votes cast in the 1972 presidential election. George McGovern, the Democrat’s presidential candidate and, by far, the most liberal candidate the Democrats have put forward in almost 50 years, secured less than 38% of the popular vote. Nevertheless, the Democrats gained two seats in the Senate increasing their majority to 56. The number of Democratic seats in the House declined by 11, but left them with a commanding majority of 241 to 192.[5] The Democrats even elected an additional governor that year raising their total to 31. Obviously, the conditions in the country were much different.

If this record is a guide, it clearly indicates that the harm a Sanders’ candidacy would do to down-ballot candidates is at least questionable.[6] The Democrats might gain a few seats in 2020 were Biden at the top of the ticket and the election not cancelled, but if history is any guide, they will suffer big losses in subsequent elections during a Biden presidency.

Notes.

1. All of these numbers come from Wikipedia at sites including https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/103rd_United_States_Congress One needs to enter each term of congress. These numbers change during the term. One may find slightly different numbers at other sites such as the one found at endnote 4.

2. Disappointment may have come from Obama’s decision to choose officials to head his administration who were devoted to bailing out the financial industry while doing little to prevent home foreclosures or alleviating poverty, failing to put in place promised policies that would ease difficulties organizers of workplace unions face, and not fighting to increase the minimum wage. Adding to their disappointment could have been Obama’s decisions to keep Bush’s Secretary of Defense as part of his administration, to escalate the war in Afghanistan, and to not prosecute those who committed and were responsible for torturing people.

3. https://www.statista.com/statistics/198486/number-of-governors-in-the-us-by-political-party-affiliation/

4. https://web.education.wisc.edu/nwhillman/index.php/2017/02/01/party-control-in-congress-and-state-legislatures/

5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/93rd_United_States_Congress

6. Obviously, the problems/issues around the virus are changing everything.

 

 

More articles by:

Rick Baum teaches Political Science at City College of San Francisco. He is a member of AFT 2121.

July 07, 2020
Richard Eskow
The War on Logic: Contradictions and Absurdities in the House’s Military Spending Bill
Daniel Beaumont
Gimme Shelter: the Brief And Strange History of CHOP (AKA CHAZ)
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s War
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Racism May be Blatant, But the Culture He Defends Comes Out of the Civil War and Goes Well Beyond Racial Division
Andrew Stewart
Can We Compare the George Floyd Protests to the Vietnam War Protests? Maybe, But the Analogy is Imperfect
Walden Bello
The Racist Underpinnings of the American Way of War
Nyla Ali Khan
Fallacious Arguments Employed to Justify the Revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s Autonomy and Its Bifurcation
Don Fitz
A Statue of Hatuey
Dean Baker
Unemployment Benefits Should Depend on the Pandemic
Ramzy Baroud – Romana Rubeo
Will the ICC Investigation Bring Justice for Palestine?
Sam Pizzigati
Social Distancing for Mega-Million Fun and Profit
Dave Lindorff
Private: Why the High Dudgeon over Alleged Russian Bounties for Taliban Slaying of US Troops
George Wuerthner
Of Fire and Fish
Binoy Kampmark
Killing Koalas: the Promise of Extinction Down Under
Parth M.N.
Back to School in Rural India: Digital Divide to Digital Partition
Ed Sanders
The Burning of Newgate Prison: a Glyph
July 06, 2020
Melvin Goodman
Foreign Election Interference: Who is to Blame?
JoAnn Wypijewski
On Disposability and Rebellion: Insights From a Rank-and-File Insurgency
Marshall Auerback – Jan Frel
There’s a Hidden Economic Trendline That is Shattering the Global Trade System
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Just and Talented Government for Our Hazardous Age
Manuel García, Jr.
Biosphere Warming in Numbers
Ron Jacobs
Kidnapping Kids: As American as the Fourth of July
Tasha Jones
Pyramids. Plantations. Projects. Penitentiaries
Binoy Kampmark
Criminalising Journalism: Australia’s National Security Craze
Eve Ottenberg
Re-Organizing Labor
Mike Garrity
How We Stopped Trump From Trashing a Critical Montana Roadless Area in Grizzly Habitat
Nino Pagliccia
The Meaning of the 1811 Independence for Today’s Venezuela
Michael Galant
We Need a Global Green New Deal
Jill Richardson
Learning Not to Look Away
Marshall Sahlins
Donald Trump at 130,000 and Rising
Weekend Edition
July 03, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Peter Linebaugh
Police and the Wealth of Nations: Déjà Vu or Unfinished Business?
Rob Urie
Class, Race and Power
John Davis
A Requiem for George Floyd
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mutiny of the Bounties!
Richard D. Wolff
Revolutionary Possibilities: Could U.S. Capitalism Turn Nationalist?
Richard Falk
When Rogue States Sanction the International Criminal Court
Louis Proyect
Smearing Black Lives Matter…From the Left
Ralph Nader
Trump and Pence – Step Aside for Professional Pandemic Scientists and Managers
Ramzy Baroud
Tearing Down the Idols of Colonialism: Why Tunisia, Africa Must Demand French Apology
Philippe Marlière
Challenging the French Republic’s Color-Blindness
Richard C. Gross
Attack, Deny
Lee Camp
Connecting the Dates – US Media Used To Stop The ‘Threat’ of Peace
Steve Martinot
The Desire to Kill
David Yearsley
The War on Kitsch
Amy Eva Alberts Warren – Rev. William Alberts
Why are Certain Christians Democratic and Others Authoritarian?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail