“President Barack Obama told Democratic donors that Democrats tend to ‘get clobbered’ in midterm elections,” reports Politico.
“During presidential elections, young people vote, women are more likely to vote, blacks, Hispanics more likely to vote. And suddenly a more representative cross-section of America gets out there and we do pretty well in presidential elections. But in midterms we get clobbered — either because we don’t think it’s important or we’ve become so discouraged about what’s happening in Washington that we think it’s not worth our while.”
This sounds reasonable, but defies history.
During the 2006 midterms, for example, Democrats took control of both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
In fact, over the last six midterms, the parties have essentially split the results, with Republicans performing well in 2010, 2002, 1994, and Democrats gaining seats in 2006, 1998, and 1990. (And 2002 probably deserves an asterisk, because of 9-11.)
Now, maybe we have turned a demographic corner since then, and maybe President Obama is sensing an emerging trend. But, for now, at least, his comments are historically inaccurate.
(Interestingly, Politico credulously reported his comments — without noting this inaccuracy.)
It would be much more historically correct to say that the incumbent president’s party tends to do poorly during midterms — a trend that is, in fact, working against President Obama’s party this year.