Should Dems fear losses in 2010 'cause of high unemployment?

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If they crave comfort, Democratic candidates can grab onto this: political science research finds little historical connection between unemployment and midterm Congressional elections....

In the 15 midterm elections since Harry S. Truman won the White House in 1948, the sitting president’s party lost House seats 13 times. The exceptions were in 1998, when Democrats benefited from a robust economy and a backlash against the Republican drive to impeach President Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair, and in 2002, when Republicans capitalized on President George W. Bush’s post-Sept. 11 fight against terrorism.

So both parties expect the Democrats’ House majority, now 258 seats, to shrink. Less clear is whether the highest unemployment in a generation will expand the loss to well beyond the average, 22 seats in each midterm election since 1950.

After matching data on joblessness and elections, Seth Masket, a political scientist at the University of Denver, asserted in a recent blog post, “There’s not much evidence unemployment has any effect at all.”

Reagan-era Republicans lost 26 House seats amid the high joblessness of the 1982 recession. Yet Democrats lost a comparable number under Mr. Truman in 1950, as did Republicans under Mr. Bush in 2006, when unemployment remained low.

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