You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Democrats Surging... In 1994?

In case you're a Democrat starting to feel better about the elections, Steve Kornacki revisits the press coverage leading up to the 1994 elections:

'94 was the last midterm campaign before now to feature a Democratic president with sizable Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, and Bill Clinton's approval rating that fall was roughly on par with Barack Obama's today.
But as the election drew near and Democrats ratcheted up their efforts, the press began reporting a late "surge" in the ruling party's favor. As the Boston Globe's John Aloysius Farrell wrote on October 30:
Clinton's improved popularity, his handling of foreign affairs and evidence that well-financed Democratic campaigns are having an impact on state and local races have all given Democrats fresh hope of avoiding the midterm cataclysm they dreaded this fall.
Or as the Los Angeles Times' Thomas B. Rosenthal reported it:

Yet amid the latest round of rhetoric and statistics, there are signs of subtle shifts in public sentiment and political strategy that suggest Democratic Party losses on Nov. 8 might not be as severe as many experts have predicted.

One factor, according to a new poll, is that voters are focusing more on local issues as elections draw closer, a trend likely to benefit incumbents because they have more political heft than newcomers. Most incumbents are Democrats.
Another element is President Clinton's rising popularity in response to recent foreign policy successes, sentiment that may be trickling down to his fellow party members.
Farrell's piece even included a caveat almost identical to the one Martin included today: "Though the Democrats may be spared a tidal wave - even GOP strategists concede Republicans won't win a majority in the House - at this point 1994 still looks like a Republican year."

It won't necessarily repeat itself, but this certainly provides grounds for caution about "Democratic recovery" stories.