President Barack Obama’s policies are so unpopular for his party that almost a quarter of the nation’s Democratic legislators have been kicked out of office since 2009.
Seven years after his own historic landslide victory, Obama’s tenure in the Oval Office has not been good for many in his party. Democratic losses have been so big that Republicans have the highest level of political power they’ve had since 1928.
During the course of the Obama presidency, Democrats have lost:
- 27 percent of their seats in the U.S. House.
- 23 percent of their seats in the U.S. Senate.
- 33 percent of gubernatorial offices they previously held.
- 60 percent of every state legislature they previously controlled.
The first anti-Obama wave in 2010 was the most damaging to Democrats because it gave Republicans decade-long control of the voting rules in many states.
“If a party wants to have a wave election, they want it in a year that ends in zero because that gives them control of the redistricting process,” which happens after each national census, said Charles Bullock, a politics professor at the University of Georgia.
Republicans were smart during the redistricting process by trying to protect their new gains instead of trying to expand their majorities, Bullock noted.
“Republicans did extraordinarily well [in 2010] … they picked up hundreds of state legislative seats that allowed them to redraw congressional districts,” Bullock told LifeZette.
Those protected districts minimized the GOP’s political losses when Obama won re-election to the presidency in 2012.
Republicans were smart during the redistricting process by trying to protect their new gains instead of trying to expand their majorities, Bullock noted. They “were not greedy … [and] Republicans now have an insurmountable advantage” until 2022, when districts must be redrawn after the 2020 census, he said.
In 2014, another election wave pushed Democratic politicians out of districts that had never before swung Republican in congressional elections.
Long-serving Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana was one of those victims. She was the last surviving Democratic U.S. senator in the Deep South, and she lost her seat last December to Bill Cassidy, a little-known and undramatic Republican politician who graduated from the U.S. House of Representatives.
Farther north, in West Virginia, Republicans demonstrated their opposition to Obama’s anti-coal policies and managed to win power for the first time in more than 80 years. The state’s voters even elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate by a huge landslide.
In the industrial Midwest, voter-supported Republicans won governorships and legislatures in Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio. Obama’s fellow Democrats were flushed out of power in Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts, where Republicans now serve as governors in all three.
The Democrats’ huge political losses also mean that many promising young Democratic politicians have quit politics altogether — while many promising young GOP politicians are learning the ropes.
The prospects for a swift recovery for the Democrats looks bleak.
“It will be much harder to win back seats in state legislatures [and] even more unlikely they will take a majority in Congress, [so] they won’t bounce back to anywhere close to where they were in 2009,” Bullock said.
The “Democrats’ best short-term hope is to win governorships in 2018 and 2020,” he said.
If they have governorships, he said, they will “be able to veto redistricting plans in the next phase of redistricting.”
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