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Mixed Results for Democrats, Good News for Progressives in 2010 Elections

By November 8, 2010

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The 2010 election results were, indeed, generally distressing for the Democratic agenda, but not all ballot box news was bad for Progressive Democrats.

Senate Election Results
Although Democrats lost and Republicans won six Senate seats, Democrat will still hold 53 Senate seats (including two Independents who caucus with Democrats) to 47 occupied by Republicans in the 112th Congress which takes office in January 2011. This will be Democrats's third consecutive Senate majority, which is a remarkable achievement.

Senate Democrat's majority of 53 seats to 47 seats is the third largest Senate majority in the last 12 years, and a much higher majority than Republican President George W. Bush's party held in 6 out of his 8 years in the White House.

The six Senate seats Republicans won and Democrats lost were in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

For state-by-state results and insider analysis, see 2010 U.S. Senate Election Results - The Winners and Losers.

Governorship Election Results
Democratic losses in gubernatorial races were both more widespread and devastating than in Senate contests.

Democrats won only 12 of the 36 finalized gubernatorial races, and lost 12 governorships that they previously held, in Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Democrats also picked up, and Republicans lost, 4 gubernatorial seats in California, Connecticut, Hawaii and Vermont. One race, Minnesota, remains uncalled and will likely be recounted.

Liberal losses in 2010 gubernatorial elections are particularly catastrophic for Democrats for several reasons:

  • Governors in place in 2011-2012 will be responsible for working with state legislatures or citizen committees to redraw Congressional districts in response to the 2010 census.
  • Governors are largely responsible for implementing White House policies at the state level.
  • Presidential candidates are more often groomed and selected from among governors than from Congress.

For state-by-state results and insider analysis, see 2010 Governors' Races Results - The Winners and Losers.

House of Representatives Election Results
Nowhere was the Democrats' 2010 electoral downfall felt more acutely than in U.S. House of Representatives' results: Democrats lost and Republicans gained 61 seats. And Republicans firmly wrenched House control from the Democrats and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Interestingly, 22 of the House Democrats who lost their election bids were centrist, pro-corporate Blue Dog Democrats. Further, four Blue Dog Democrats retired, and two Blue Dogs ran for the U.S. Senate and lost their races.

Thus, the Blue Dog Democrats, who famously fought Speaker Pelosi's agenda in the 111th Congress, had their membership decimated by the 2010 elections, from more than 50 to only 23 remaining members.

In vivid contrast, no Black Caucus members, and very few Progressive or Latino Caucus members, lost their House reelection bids.

As a result, House Democrats in the 112th Congress will be more progressive and more supportive of the Democratic party and Nancy Pelosi's agenda than any House of Representatives in recent memory.

In summary
As President Obama commented, Democrats took a "shellacking" in the 2010 election cycle. But the news is not all bad for progressives, by any means. And Democrats still firmly control both the White House and U.S. Senate.

I have no doubt that, if unemployment decreases over the next few years, and if Congressional Republicans continue their overbearing bully-tactics and refusal to govern with any modicum of responsibility, that in 2012, Democrats can easily erase Republican gains. And regain full control of D.C. politics.


November 8, 2010 at 11:06 pm
(1) qewqer says:

Look at this liberal freak. Get a clue

November 9, 2010 at 3:16 pm
(2) Steve LeMaster says:

Just like a progressive.

If you thought November 2010 was a tidal wave, just wait til 2012. It’s going to put a whole new term on the “shellacking”.

November 9, 2010 at 5:15 pm
(3) auntiebev says:

In light of these election results, this “liberal freak” just has to ask: What have YOU been smoking?

November 10, 2010 at 8:13 am
(4) Jose Velasco says:

True! Also Tea party will beat down the fake moderate Repubs and further erode conservative gains.

November 14, 2010 at 9:32 pm
(5) Trish says:

To the previous people making comments:
Only the mind of a conservative would find name-calling a reasonable response to a serious attempt to state a political position.

November 17, 2010 at 11:36 pm
(6) O/Siris says:

Only a conservative would do that?

You REALLY need to read up on one Representative Alan Grayson.

Actually, that would be FORMER Representative Alan Grayson, once the lame duck session completes.

Oh, wait. That would be objective. Democrats don’t do objective. That’s why users can get locked out of this forum without warning, without notice, and WITH being called names by the corruptly protected clique therein.

December 22, 2010 at 3:32 pm
(7) Febber says:

Reading this, I have to wonder if the blog’s understands why some seats flipped sides. She notes that the Black, Latino and most progressive house members survived the elections, while the Blue Dogs lost the most seats. She does understand, I hope, the concept of a competitive seat, and the impact on electoral mood swings on those seats? And the consequent impact on the leadership of both Congressional Parties?

The fact is that the most competitive districts produce the most moderate representatives. These reps then suffer the most when the extremists within their party, by virtue of having the greatest seniority in Congress, then drive the agenda to the far left or right, aienating the moderate and independent voters in the competitive districts.

So keep on thinking that it’s a good thing for the most “progressive” members to get reelected, even though that only helps insure they will be a minority party in Congress, at least until the Tea Partiers frighten the moderate voters even more.

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