Monday, November 05, 2007


I know I seem excessively gloomy about '08 -- but that's only up to a point. I have serious doubts about the Democrats' prospects in the presidential race, but even I have to admit that think polls are looking quite good for the party in the House and Senate.

It would make perfect sense to me if Republicans held the White House and Democrats held Congress, even adding a good number of seats. In fact, it would fit a pattern: When 2008 comes to an end, we'll have gone through a 56-year period in which, for half the time, Republicans held the White House and Democrats held at least one house of Congress (and usually both).

I'm going back to the 1952 election, which put Eisenhower in the White House -- for six of his eight years, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. Democrats controlled both houses through the eight years of Nixon and Ford, and held the House through the twelve years of Reagan and Bush the Elder (the Senate was GOP for the first six of those years). Bush had a GOP Congress for six years -- then 2006 happened.

Remember, 1950 is when Richard Nixon beat Helen Gahagan Douglas for a Senate seat by arguing that she wasn't tough enough and was a friend to America's enemies. Every single Republican we've elected president since then has been portrayed as a manly hero, has succeeded in persuading voters that his opponent is a weakling-slash-traitor, or both. (Nixon himself was, of course, on four of those winning GOP tickets.)

Yet we like Democratic policies. The New Deal legacy lingers. For the most part, we demonstrate that when we vote for members of Congress. But for president, we want a hero on a white horse, or as close as we can get. That's almost invariably the Republican, certainly not Adlai Stevenson or Michael Dukakis or Walter Mondale.

So there's my prediction: even more of a Democratic Congress than we have now -- and Giuliani as president. Same as usual.

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