Michael Barone: Midterms: Route 66 for the GOP?





[Michael Barone is senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner.]

Everybody, even White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, agrees that the Republicans are going to pick up seats in the House and Senate elections this year. The disagreement is about how many.

Some compare 2010 to 1994, when Republicans picked up 52 House seats and won majorities in both houses of Congress for the first time in four decades. That was a reaction to the big-government programs of the first two years of the Clinton administration....

Let me put another off-year election on the table for comparison: 1966. Like 1994, this wasn’t a year of hard economic times. But it was a year when a Democratic president’s war in Asia was starting to cause unease and some opposition within his own party, as is happening now.

And it was a year of recoil against the big-government programs of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. The 89th Congress, with two-to-one Democratic majorities, had passed Medicare, federal aid to education, anti-poverty programs, and other landmark legislation....

In 1966, Republicans gained 47 seats in the House. That left the Democrats with a 247–187 majority but without effective control, because 95 of those Democrats were from the South (defined as the 11 Confederate states plus West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma), and almost all voted conservative on most issues....



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