Several months ago Newt Gingrich made a statement that I thought at the time to be overly optimistic. He predicted that Republicans would win 30-40 seats in the House and a dozen Senate seats in the 2012 election. At the time I felt that with the Democrats defending 23 Senate seats and with the Republicans needing only three for a majority, in all likelihood a Republican Senate was a likely result. I also felt that with redistricting making Republican seats more Republican and with seats migrating to red states, all signs pointed to Republicans holding the House as well. But the prospect of a landslide election on the scale of 2010 seemed unlikely. Several news items recently have started to expand the scale of what is possible in the upcoming election.
The first piece of evidence comes from Nate Silver, a liberal poll analyst for the New York Times. While he tends to take a liberal view of things, his analysis is generally very sound. Following the New York and Nevada special elections he offered this sobering perspective for Democrats. Looking back over the past year, even including the special elections in a liberal California district and for the disgraced Republican New York seat, Republicans are outperforming in the Partisan Vote Index by over seven points.
He writes the following:
In other words, the four special elections, taken as a whole, suggest that Democrats may still be locked in a 2010-type political environment. Democrats might not lose many more seats in the House if that were the case, since most of their vulnerable targets have already been picked off, but it would limit their potential for any gains. And it could produce dire results for the Democrats in the U.S. Senate, where they have twice as many seats up for re-election.
That leads to the second piece of evidence that suggests that a second consecutive Republican sweep could be a reality. A recent Gallup poll suggests that Democrat enthusiasm is dramatically lacking. How lacking do you ask? The enthusiasm level may be submerging to their lowest levels in over a decade. This would surpass even 2010 levels creating an enthusiasm gap between the parties that threatens to kill any Democrat aspirations in congress or the presidency.
What does this mean? It means that Gingrich could be right. If this holds, it could mean a Republican supermajority in the Senate, a dominant majority in the House, and a Republican presidency could be realistic possibilities. Much can happen between now and then but fourteen months out, Democrats have to be concerned.