We Democrats, progressives, and other liberals got "shellacked" in the words of President Obama, and maybe we did if we go by the standards of today's 24/7 news cycle. But you know what? If we hold the 2010 midterm election up to the light of history, it becomes less of a shellacking by the Republicans and more of a Democratic victory! That's just sour grapes and desperate political spin after a devastating loss, you say? Again, in the harsh light of American political history, not so!
In the 1982 midterm election during what was then the worst recession since the Great Depression, the Republicans under Reagan lost 27 seats in the House and the Senate stayed essentially unchanged. Congress stayed Democratic. In the 1994 midterm election with an economy that was still recovering from a recession that began under Bush Sr., the Democrats lost 54 seats in the House and two in the Senate. Congress became Republican-controlled.
So, how is this proof that this past Tuesday's election wasn't so bad for the Democrats, especially since we lost 60 seats in the House and six or seven in the Senate depending on how you count them? Easy!
First, a first term president's party normally loses seats in the midterm election.
Second, when we lost 54 seats in the House in 1994, that was following a relatively mild recession as compared to the great recession.
Third, we've got a black president, and this does make a difference, since race does play a part in voting and white conservatives are much more likely to vote in midterm elections; witness the plethora of race-baiting which was almost exclusively committed by those on the right.
Fourth, we've got a president with a funny name, including a Muslim middle name shared with a tyrant against whom we'd just fought and won a frankly illegal war.
Fifth, the Citizens United decision opened up the floodgates of corporate money which could even be from foreign governments. As a result, more money was spent on this election than even the 2008 presidential election! And when the 527 non-profits are figured in, much more money was spent in support of Republican candidates than for the Democrats.