Many people, including members of the Obama administration, are acting as if 2010 could be a rerun of 1994, when the Republicans added 52 House seats and eight Senate seats and took back Congress for the first time in decades. But historian Nancy Cohen argues in a Los Angeles Times commentary that the GOP sparked a revolution in 1994 by recruiting new Christian right voters and white Southerners, and that there’s no similar constituency up for grabs this time. “In November, the GOP needs to pick up 40 seats in the House and 11 in the Senate to win control of Congress. It needs to broaden its constituency significantly but nothing suggests there are sufficient numbers of additional voters who can be recruited to its cause.æ.æ.æ. Tea-party activists do share the ideological intensity of some GOP voters of 1994. But they are neither new voters, like 1994’s evangelicals, nor are they party switchers, like 1994’s white Southerners. There is no good evidence — in surveys or reporting — that they are anything other than disaffected conservatives who have previously voted Republican. At this moment, the odds are better that they’ll split the GOP than that they’ll sweep the Democrats out of power.”
But such analysis doesn’t consider the impact of independent voters, as we saw in Massachusetts. Doyle McManus reported: “The number of voters who call themselves independent has risen to 37 percent in the Gallup Poll, against 33 percent who identify themselves as Democrats and 27 percent as Republicans. In recent months, independents’ sentiment has started to swing away from the Democrats. Over the course of 2009, the share of independents who said they ‘leaned Republican’ grew from 31 to 40 percent; those who leaned Democratic dropped from 47 to 38 percent.”
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