John Judis gets hypothetically optimistic:
And let me say one other thing. I hate political predictions, and I have certainly heard my fill of them lately. The recent Conservative Political Action Conference echoed with predictions that the Republicans would obliterate the Democrats in November 2010. And the esteemed Charlie Cook has recently pronounced the Democrats to be toast in 2010. But—and there are some “ifs” coming—if Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid can get the health care bill through Congress and on to Obama’s desk, and if Obama has truly learned his lesson and begins to draw a sharp distinction between the Democrats’ approach and the Republican approach, and if he begins to propose initiatives that highlight this distinction, the Democrats will retain the House and Senate in November. They will probably lose seats, but they won’t get obliterated.
I hate predictions too, so I won’t offer one. I’ll just offer the observation that one consequence of winning the 2006 and 2008 House elections so handily is that even a good result in 2010 is going to look pretty bad. Chirs Bowers observed today that “In 2006 and 2008, Democrats won the national popular vote by 6.49% and 8.65% respectively.”
The way House elections work, is that if Democrats win by, say, 2 percent it’ll still look and feel like a wipeout with a huge proportion of members in marginal seats losing. It’s be a situation similar to the 1998 midterms, where the GOP retained control but was perceived to have suffered a substantial “rebuke” from the public in light of its diminished majority. The only way to keep doing well is to keep replicating the large margin of victory from 2006, which just isn’t realistic.