Michael Barone

Those who consider themselves constitutional conservatives should take care to consider not only the powers that the Constitution confers on the different branches of government and reserves to the states and the people, but also the schedule that the Constitution sets up for sharp changes and reversals of public policy.

The entire House of Representatives is elected every two years. The voters in 2010, with unusual clarity, elected a House determined to reverse the Obama Democrats' vast increase in the size and scope of government.

But determination is not enough. Barack Obama, elected in 2008, remains in office, armed with a veto. The friendly mainstream media permit him to use euphemisms to insist on tax increases that were roundly rejected by the voters in 2010.

And the Senate, two-thirds of which was elected in the Democratic years of 2006 and 2008, retains a Democratic majority that, though unable to pass its own budget, can frustrate House Republicans' attempts to deliver on their more recent mandate.

The lesson is that you have to win at least two elections in a row to make the kind of policy changes that the Obama Democrats made in 2009 and 2010 and that House Republicans want to make now.

The good news for Republicans is that there has been a convergence of voting in congressional and presidential elections.

Starting in the 1950s, accelerating in the '60s and '70s, and continuing in the '80s, many Americans split their tickets, often electing Republican presidents but electing Democratic House majorities for 40 years.

In the middle 1990s, that changed. The Democratic percentage of the vote for president and for the House of Representatives have differed by no more than 1 percent starting in 1996.

In addition, the percentages for the two parties in the popular vote for the House in the last three off-year elections have been almost exactly the same as the percentages for the parties in the vote for president two years later.

In 1998, the popular vote for the House was 49 percent to 48 percent Republican. In 2000, the popular vote for president was 48 percent to 48 percent Democratic.

In 2002, the popular vote for the House was 51 percent to 46 percent Republican. In 2004, the popular vote for president was 51 percent to 48 percent Republican.

In 2006, the popular vote for the House was 53 percent to 45 percent Democratic. In 2008, the popular vote for president was 53 percent to 46 percent Democratic.

Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM