GOP Faces Multiple Hurdles as It Aims for a 1994 Replay

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A big question hangs over American politics: Could next year be 1994 all over again?

That was the year a bitter debate over health care led to a disastrous congressional election for Democrats, in which they lost 54 House and 10 Senate seats and ceded control of both chambers to the Republicans.

Things have started to look similar under Democratic President Barack Obama. His poll ratings slipped through the summer months, his party was damaged by a bruising health-care debate, and the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows the job-approval rating for the Democratic-controlled Congress has slumped to 22% -- almost precisely where it was at this time in the 1994 election cycle.

Combine that with the fact that a new president's party almost always loses seats in the first election after he takes office, and leaders of both parties now agree Democratic losses appear inevitable in the 2010 congressional election. Even some high-profile Democrats, such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, face tough fights....

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