What 2014 Elections Can Tell Us About the 2016 Ones: Not So Much

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tags: 2014 election



America has again embraced our long history of electoral overreaction. While it’s true that Republicans won a major victory at the polls, the results tell us far less about future elections than some commentary has suggested.

In particular, the widespread Democratic losses weren’t a “repudiation” of Hillary Rodham Clinton (who played a minor role). But despite claims that they actually offer her a useful opportunity to contrast herself with a Republican Congress, she doesn’t face a “great situation” for her prospective 2016 presidential candidacy either.

Historically, midterm results, which are typically unfavorable to the president’s party, tell us relatively little about the coming presidential election, as the accompanying chart illustrates. The record shows that the president’s party can rebound from major losses to win at the polls in two years. Bill Clinton, for instance, bounced back from the 1994 Republican landslide to easily win re-election in 1996. Similarly, President Obama, whose party suffered major losses in 2010, went on to defeat Mitt Romney in 2012, and George Bush won the 1988 election after Republicans suffered major losses in 1986, President Reagan’s sixth year in office.




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