Looking to the Midterms

Josh Kraushaar writes in Politico:

After an August recess marked by raucous town halls, troubling polling data and widespread anecdotal evidence of a volatile electorate, the small universe of political analysts who closely follow House races is predicting moderate to heavy Democratic losses in 2010.

Some of the most prominent and respected handicappers can now envision an election in which Democrats suffer double-digit losses in the House — not enough to provide the 40 seats necessary to return the GOP to power but enough to put them within striking distance.

I think it’s important to have the proper perspective on this stuff. The political system has a tendency in the direction of parity. Consequently, any party currently enjoying a large majority should expect losses in the next election. At the moment, virtually every left-of-center congressional district is already in the hands of a Democrat (the seats held by Reps Joseph Cao and Mike Castle are the main exceptions) while many right-of-center districts aren’t currently represented by Republicans. So the GOP will probably pick up seats. What’s more, the President’s party usually loses seats in midterms.

Nate Silver has a useful chart reminding us of this:

Even popular presidents usually lose seats. So Democrats will almost certainly lose seats. But that shouldn’t be taken as evidence that some kind of fiasco is looming — the loss of seats is something that can and should be taken in stride. The loss of the House majority, by contrast, would be a huge deal. But nobody seems to think that’s in the cards at this point.