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Why We Fight At the End of a Dynasty

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Fun Frolic and Midterms

by Christopher Chantrill
October 21, 2010 at 12:46 pm


WHEN YOUR team looks to do well in the playoffs it’s time to head down to the big-box store to buy a big-screen HDTV. But what do you do when your party looks to wipe the floor in the midterms?

The question is: When the results start rolling, how will the election rate against the Best All-time Midterms? Obviously there will be one helpful measurement. The MSM anchors will not be smiling too much on November 2, 2010.

But here’s a better way to go. Dial upusmidtermelections.com and check the stats. It’s got a table of all the US midterm elections going back to the first midterm in 1790.

Want to know the worst result ever for the Democrats? Click here, and usmidtermelections.com will show the midterm elections ranked by the worst Democratic results ever. Here’s a screenshot of the results. (Note: if you click a column heading you will get a reorder of the results.)

You can see that the worst Democratic outing was the 1894 midterms; the Democrats lost 112 seats. The election occurred in the aftermath of the Panic of 1893 and Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, was president.

The next worst result for Democrats was 1854. That was the year the Sen. Stephen Douglas (D-IL) pushed through the Kansas-Nebraska Act. His brilliant idea was to give the voters of Kansas and Nebraska the right to decide whether they wanted slavery or not. The voters didn’t think his idea was so brilliant and the Democrats lost 76 seats that year.

Notice that the 76 seat loss represented almost half of the Democratic strength prior to the election. There were only 234 seats in the US House in 1854.

You might think that 1854 was a banner year for Republicans. So it was, in a way. The Republicans gained 37 seats, which is not so great unless you know the context. The 37-seat gain was from zero. Yes, the Republican Party got its start in 1854 due to grass-roots revulsion with the Kansas-Nebraska Act. It was built out of a dispersal draft of the Whigs, a party that couldn’t decide if it was anti-slavery.

That’s the beauty of usmidtermelections.com. It tips you off to the pivotal years in US politics. The story goes like this.

Every now and again one of the political parties completely misjudges the will of the American people. Its leaders pass unpopular bills and confidently predict that the American people will like it once they find out what is in it. A few months pass by and it looks like their party is going to take a drubbing in the polls. No problem, the experts say. This is not 1994 when the Republican surge took us by surprise. Oh, by the way, they add. Did you know that the opposition party is running a bunch of extremist whackos and is taking money from evil foreigners?

Let’s look at the midterm election results with the best Republican results at the top.

You can see that 1894 still rates #1. But the next best result is now 1938, the year that Americans gave up on the New Deal after it had given them a recession in the middle of the Great Depression. Then comes 1914. That was the year that the Republicans got over the 1912 split between Theodore Roosevelt and President William Howard Taft. The glorious Gingrich election of 1994 is only the fifth best.

You can see that the Sunday forecast from realclearpolitics.com for a 53-seat Republican pickup in the November 2 election is not exactly record-breaking stuff. But I am not discouraged. In my view, everyone is low-balling their prediction. If you are a Democrat you don’t want to discourage the troops. If you are a Republican you don’t want your troops to get cocky. If you are a pollster you have don’t want to look reckless.

My fearless forecast is an 80 seat GOP pickup, and why not? I’m not a party operative and I’m not a pollster. Here’s my thinking. This is not 1994 when moderate voters wanted to punish Clinton for tax increases and HillaryCare, and Republican voters were returning to work after the 1992 strike against the elder Bush’s tax increases. Remember? Unemployment was 5.6 percent. This is not 1914 when Republican voters were reuniting after a mammoth split. It is not 1894 and a monster depression with real hardship. No, this is more like 1938, when American voters were reacting against a president that had seriously under-delivered and been sold to them as a lightworker. In 1938 Republicans gained 81 seats in the House.

I know what you are thinking. Eighty seats. Wouldn’t that be fun!

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990

Mutual Aid

In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society


“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State

Living Under Law

Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures

German Philosophy

The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since 1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be inadequate. 
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West


Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities


“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

Democratic Capitalism

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Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh

Living Law

The recognition and integration of extralegal property rights [in the Homestead Act] was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world.
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital

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