This year is not exactly like 1994; no two elections are ever alike. There are some arguments that it might not be as bad for Democrats as the election 16 years ago. There are fewer open Democratic seats, Democrats won’t be caught napping at the end, and the GOP brand is badly damaged.

But while these are reasonable points, there are more arguments that this will be worse for Democrats than 1994. While Democrats had more open seats in 1994, they had not made strong gains in 1990 or 1992, so there were not many Democrats sitting in seats that had been Republican. Democrats didn’t carry into 1994 a lot of seats that had been won under fairly exotic conditions, with voter turnout among young, African-American and Hispanic voters at record levels. The unemployment rate in 1994 was 5.6 percent, not 9.5 percent. The Speaker of the House was Tom Foley and the Majority Leader of the Senate was George Mitchell, neither a well-known or polarizing figure threatening to push aside the local incumbents as the face of the Democratic Congress…

While Democrats’ majority status in the Senate is not as endangered as in the House, it does look like Republicans will likely score a net gain of at least eight seats, and a 10-seat swing that would give Republicans control of the upper chamber is not implausible. Cook Political Report Senate Editor Jennifer Duffy points out that in 1998, six of the seven Senate races rated Toss Up in the final ratings were won by Democrats. In 2000, seven out of nine went Democratic; in 2002, six out of nine went Republican; in 2004, the GOP won eight out of nine; in 2006, Democrats won eight out of nine; and in 2008, Democrats won seven out of nine. There is a strong tendency in Senate races for most of the closest races to break in one direction. In this year, Democrats have gotten few breaks.