Gallup: Average loss of seats for midterms is 36 …

posted at 12:15 pm on August 9, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Is this midterm cycle out of the ordinary, or to be expected when during an unpopular presidency?   Gallup takes a look back at the history of its polling and midterm results for Presidents going back to Harry Truman, and notes that unpopular incumbents lose an average of 36 seats in midterm elections:

Presidents who retain majority job approval from Americans at the time of midterm elections are much less likely to see their party suffer heavy seat losses than are those with sub-50% approval ratings. Since 1946, when presidents are above 50% approval, their party loses an average of 14 seats in the U.S. House in the midterm elections, compared with an average loss of 36 seats when presidents are below that mark.

The clear implication is that the Democrats are vulnerable to losing a significant number of House seats this fall with Barack Obama’s approval rating averaging 45% during the last two full weeks of Gallup Daily tracking. The Republicans would need to gain 40 House seats to retake majority control.

On a historical basis, the Democrats under Jimmy Carter suffered the slimmest seat loss of a party whose president was below 50% approval, losing 11 seats in the 1978 midterms. More recently, Bill Clinton in 1994 and George W. Bush in 2006 saw their parties lose enough seats in the House to turn party control over to the opposition party when they had less than majority approval.

Assuming that Barack Obama retains his current Gallup approval rate of 45%, what kind of losses can Democrats expect in November?  Bill Clinton lost 53 seats in the House with a 46% rating in 1994, and LBJ lost 47 seats with a 44% rating in 1966.  Anything above 39 seats gives control of the House back to the Republicans.

Carter’s limited loss was an anomaly anyway.  It followed on the heels of Watergate, when voters were still angry enough at Republicans for Richard Nixon that any large-scale gains were out of the question.  That’s why Gerald Ford lost 47 seats despite having a 54% approval rating three months after becoming President in 1974.

This year seems different from most of those mentioned, for one big reason: the economy.  In 1994, Bill Clinton lost big because of his nanny-state overreach, and that was when the economy was actually adding jobs and growing steadily.  This year, not only has Obama spent the entire year attempting to expand government to unprecedented levels, he’s also spent the economy into stagnation at the same time.  Carter had Watergate to protect him, but Obama has nothing except the tiresome demonization of George W. Bush.


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Am hoping for an above average year.

Tommy_G on August 9, 2010 at 12:17 PM

This is Obama so whatever happens should be unprecedented. What is the most seats one party has ever lost in a midterm?

Rocks on August 9, 2010 at 12:19 PM

Let’s hope that’s a low estimate. If you guys can’t even win the House, the presidential elections won’t mean bupkis.

Dark-Star on August 9, 2010 at 12:19 PM

As if elections will actually be held.

Bishop on August 9, 2010 at 12:19 PM

Wow, I wonder how many seats a good, solid B+ will net us!

abobo on August 9, 2010 at 12:19 PM

Did Gallup account for Angle and Rubio being bad general campaigners?

Speedwagon82 on August 9, 2010 at 12:20 PM

Gee and here everyone said republicans were dead after the messiah ascended to the white house.

Vera on August 9, 2010 at 12:21 PM

Why be average, let’s go for a new record!

LincolntheHun on August 9, 2010 at 12:23 PM

Having skin-in-the-game could mean a visit to the plastic surgeon in November.

Future Drudge headline: Grifter needs graft.

Yoop on August 9, 2010 at 12:25 PM

There is nothing average about the times in which we are living…

d1carter on August 9, 2010 at 12:26 PM

Let’s hope that’s a low estimate. If you guys can’t even win the House, the presidential elections won’t mean bupkis.

Dark-Star on August 9, 2010 at 12:19 PM

The article stated that Jimmy Carter’s party lost only 11 seats in the 1978 midterms and I think we all know how 1980 turned out.

sf_conservative on August 9, 2010 at 12:26 PM

As if elections will actually be held.

Bishop on August 9, 2010 at 12:19 PM

Or held fairly. In NY minority votes now count as 6 votes, while racist white votes only count as one.

Tommy_G on August 9, 2010 at 12:28 PM

So what is the average loss when the economy is bad?

I mean separated from the job approval and then added to the job approval?

This could be a perfect storm.

But only if the anger that was shown in 06 and 08 against Republicans has really dissipated enough not to have the Watergate effect.

I think change is still the watch word. This will be the third election in a row that voters vote for change.

Let’s hope this time it will happen in the right direction.

petunia on August 9, 2010 at 12:28 PM

Gallup is just trying to put lipstick on this pig. After this debacle for the dems comes 2012. Be advised, there are 33 senate seats that are being decided. 24 of the 33 are Democrat… hehehehhe

CC

CapedConservative on August 9, 2010 at 12:32 PM

Stay Ungovernable, My Friends!

Mutnodjmet on August 9, 2010 at 12:33 PM

So I wonder how many seats we’d have to pick up for the MSM to count it as a win. 50?

Vera on August 9, 2010 at 12:35 PM

A funny note at the Weekly Standard:

So desperate is the United States Congress to spend $26 billion to bail out state governments—ensuring state governments have no incentive to stay within budgets, so that we can bail them out repeatedly until the end of time— that they didn’t even name the bill.

H.R. 1586 has adopted the name, the “______Act of____,” apparently because of the haste with which the Senate wanted to pass the bill last week.

The Senate’s substitute amendment on this $26 billion spending bill had a placeholder bill name, and it could not take time to replace the placeholder. The House is expected to return this week and pass the Senate amendment, sending it to the president.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/congress-competence-attention-detail-strike-again

year_of_the_dingo on August 9, 2010 at 12:35 PM

and the hurricane gathers….

ted c on August 9, 2010 at 12:36 PM

Carter had Watergate to protect him, but Obama has nothing except the tiresome demonization of George W. Bush.

The way my democrat relatives speak, you’d think Nixon was a saint compared to W. Common sense and facts be damned, these people hate Bush. The left was pretty effective at branding Bush as a corrupt, stupid war monger (and, by extension, all republicans) and that sentiment hasn’t gone away yet. I just don’t want to underestimate public opinion, even if it is ignorant.

Bee on August 9, 2010 at 12:37 PM

That was average loss before the Main Stream Media openly became a full fledged, propaganda subsidiary of the Democratic party. (Remember Hillary was a shoe-in for the Democratic party Presidential candidate in 2008 until she got the Journolist treatment….)

Without the Republicans taking Harry Reid’s seat away from the Democrats, any seats won will be a hollow victory.

albill on August 9, 2010 at 12:38 PM

I just want to see that smug look wiped off of Gibbs face this fall.

And Pelosi? Priceless.

NoDonkey on August 9, 2010 at 12:39 PM

This is Obama so whatever happens should be unprecedented. What is the most seats one party has ever lost in a midterm?
Rocks on August 9, 2010 at 12:19 PM

Heh…

As well as historic – not to mention historical.

Drained Brain on August 9, 2010 at 12:42 PM

Would not be surprised in the least if the dems lost more that 60+ seats in the house

ConservativePartyNow on August 9, 2010 at 12:43 PM

The Dems are beginning to exhibit the behavior of an over-stimulated, sugared-up 6 year old who is being dragged towards the monorail at Disney World. Kicking, screaming, crying, latching onto anything that will prolong the “good time”.

Go to bed, now.

BobMbx on August 9, 2010 at 12:45 PM

I think the record loss is 125 seats, I think, in 1894. I was reading, here I think, about the three basic factors that have the biggest effect, and all three hit that year. One of them is bad economy (that was a depression year), I forget the other 2 off the top of my head.

WashingtonsWake on August 9, 2010 at 12:49 PM

Has anyone noticed the “Missouri Vote” has been totally covered up by the LSM? If the voting trend continues into November, it will be a 60-PLUS Republican seat pickup in the house, and the Senate will flip.

RADIOONE on August 9, 2010 at 12:51 PM

Did Gallup account for Angle and Rubio being bad general campaigners?

Speedwagon82 on August 9, 2010 at 12:20 PM

1. We haven’t hit the general election so we don’t know if they are bad general campaigners.

2. This article was about the President’s party losing House seats. Neither Rubio or Angle are running for the House of Representatives so your logic does not apply.

That is all.

dczombie on August 9, 2010 at 12:51 PM

nanny-state overreach,

Your extraordinary talent for tactful understatement is on display again. lol! I know you were talking about Clinton, but Obama is making Clinton look like a conservative by comparison.

jeanie on August 9, 2010 at 12:59 PM

Did Gallup account for Angle and Rubio being bad general campaigners?

Speedwagon82 on August 9, 2010 at 12:20 PM

Do you think the only good campaign is one where you are the front runner for the whole time?
They are against a machine that destroyed the Republicans just 18 months ago…they owned both houses by huge majorities, do you think that is given up easy? Do you think people actually change their mind that quickly?
Patience, good message, allow people to change their minds, support a better candidate, and understand that the dems are not giving up easily.

right2bright on August 9, 2010 at 1:01 PM

Bill Kristol said he expects the Republicans to get 60 seats in Nov if things keep on the same general track they are on now, with the generic ballot as it stands, with them winning the national vote about 54-46. Chris Wallace’s “Whaaaaa?” and Juan Williams, “Whoa, really!” were hilarious responses.

I’ve thought, looking at all the various districts and if things keep on the same trajectory and fall correctly, 75 is doable. And the thing is, if things go the same down ballot and in governors’ races and with the continuing shift south & west, though not to California, 2012 will have a few more made to order Republican seats, something I don’t see mentioned anywhere.

lizzie beth on August 9, 2010 at 1:02 PM

but Obama has nothing except the tiresome demonization of George W. Bush.

c’mon dear leader, don’t YOU have any new ideas…

geez!

cmsinaz on August 9, 2010 at 1:08 PM

So I wonder how many seats we’d have to pick up for the MSM to count it as a win. 50?

Vera on August 9, 2010 at 12:35 PM

very good question…

cmsinaz on August 9, 2010 at 1:09 PM

It will be historical,er biblical!!!!!!!!!

canopfor on August 9, 2010 at 1:11 PM

but Obama has nothing except the tiresome demonization of George W. Bush.

c’mon dear leader, don’t YOU have any new ideas…

geez!

cmsinaz on August 9, 2010 at 1:08 PM

cmsinaz: Yes,he does…..B-U-S-H!!!!!Ugh!:)

canopfor on August 9, 2010 at 1:12 PM

80 seats minimum. If the Republicans don’t mess things up like they usually do.

Worst. President. Ever.

blue13326 on August 9, 2010 at 1:12 PM

Gallup is just trying to put lipstick on this pig. After this debacle for the dems comes 2012. Be advised, there are 33 senate seats that are being decided. 24 of the 33 are Democrat… hehehehhe

CC

CapedConservative on August 9, 2010 at 12:32 PM

The way you phrased that put a huge grin on this eager voter’s face.

cynccook on August 9, 2010 at 1:14 PM

Momentum matters. The Dems are really nervous right now. Without a some real breaking news to change the momentum, they are looking at record breaking losses. The word “landslide” won’t do it justice.

And the big kicker is that this is a “census election.” The winners in the state races get to control the next redistricting. That could transform this year’s election into a realignment.

Twelve weeks is a very, very long time in politics but the Dems are deeply worried and don’t have a plan. They need a miracle.

Pythagoras on August 9, 2010 at 1:16 PM

Obama’s official title after Nov:

“the guy who lives in the White House.”

BobMbx on August 9, 2010 at 1:17 PM

canopfor on August 9, 2010 at 1:12 PM

:)

cmsinaz on August 9, 2010 at 1:17 PM

Let’s hope that’s a low estimate. If you guys can’t even win the House, the presidential elections won’t mean bupkis.

Dark-Star on August 9, 2010 at 12:19 PM

..if your outlook is particularly dark, then maybe your head’s stuck somewhere where the sun don’t shine.

The War Planner on August 9, 2010 at 1:17 PM

The image of Nasty Pelosi losing her status, her gavel and her special transportation and having to return to flying commercial is Godiva chocolate sweet. I have no such fantasy about her losing her seat in Congress. The vile perverts in her district would never turn against their dominatrix mommy.

Extrafishy on August 9, 2010 at 1:26 PM

If someone is starting a pool, put me down for 93 & 11.

AlexJ on August 9, 2010 at 1:29 PM

OK, I stand corrected; the old record for a landslide election is not getting broken. Wow.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_House_of_Representatives_elections,_1894

But 1894 wasn’t a census year and so the long term effects weren’t as severe. Still, wow.

Pythagoras on August 9, 2010 at 1:32 PM

It’ll be nice when we can tell Mr. “I won”

WE WON

Scrappy on August 9, 2010 at 1:44 PM

Double or nothing.

Rebar on August 9, 2010 at 1:49 PM

I expect a record dem loss with the numbers growing as we get closer to the election. What makes me think this is the turnout rate in Missouri last week, twice the republicans than dems…

JIMV on August 9, 2010 at 2:22 PM

Hopefully the repubs will clean house so we can rid ourselves of Pelosi and her other courtesans.

Then what? The repubs are not qualified either. With the old guard still running the party nothing will get done. Oh sure there will be new bridges to nowhere but everything Obama has passed will stay in place. The border will be left open and the budget deficit will get even bigger. Oh sure it will go up a little slower but up it will go.

Rep Ryan will be queen for a day and then they will bury him on the back bench somewhere. Furthermore the Repubs just don’t have any visionaries that can handle the grief that the Dems and the MSM will be throwing at them every day. Lawsuits and subpoenas will bury the House. Soros will be in fuller bloom.

The two years of Repub failure will lead to Obama getting elected in 2012. Why? Because nothing, and I mean NOTHING has changed with the Repub party in the last six years. They are a disgrace only outdone by the Dems.

patrick neid on August 9, 2010 at 2:58 PM

November, 2010 will not be average, it will be more like obliteration.

Tav on August 9, 2010 at 3:44 PM

60 seats they will loose!

NRA Lifer on August 9, 2010 at 4:25 PM

Come on guys, let’s go for a B+ here

azkag on August 9, 2010 at 5:23 PM

Do you think the only good campaign is one where you are the front runner for the whole time?
They are against a machine that destroyed the Republicans just 18 months ago…they owned both houses by huge majorities, do you think that is given up easy? Do you think people actually change their mind that quickly?
Patience, good message, allow people to change their minds, support a better candidate, and understand that the dems are not giving up easily.

right2bright on August 9, 2010 at 1:01 PM

Mel Gibson should be leading Reid at this point. At least Mel had a nice personality when he was young. Reid was always like this.

Speedwagon82 on August 9, 2010 at 5:28 PM

Trust me, there will be at least 60 seats switching hands. :) :) :)

Theophile on August 10, 2010 at 2:19 AM

In the modern era, the only big swing was in 1994 when 54 seats switched sides for a 108 seat swing.

In 1948, 75 seats switched sides for a 150 seat swing.

In 1932, there was a 198 seat swing.

But, yeah, in 1894, there was a 255 seat swing.

This will be a record swing for the modern era, but, hopefully, it will even rival the ones in the older eras. :) :) :)

Theophile on August 10, 2010 at 2:29 AM

..if your outlook is particularly dark, then maybe your head’s stuck somewhere where the sun don’t shine.

The War Planner on August 9, 2010 at 1:17 PM

How clever. Did you plan that one yourself, or did you have to consult some of your comrades?

I could say the exact same thing about all the starry-eyed fools fantasizing about a massive Republican win, except to accuse them of having their heads in the clouds. And also, as patrick neid noted, if the Repubs don’t fix their own problems any victory will soon be moot.

Dark-Star on August 10, 2010 at 9:05 AM