In 1980, Ronald Reagan led the GOP to a pick up of a net 34 seats in the House of Representatives as well as a Senate majority.
House Republicans gave back 27 of those seats in the 1982 vote.
In 1994, the Newt-led GOP swept the country, emerging with 230 House seats after gaining a net 54 in the decisive rebuke to Bill Clinton's first two years as president.
The Democrats have had their big years as well, winning 31 net seats in 2006 and another 21 seats in 2008.
Note that the big House swings have come years apart, in 1980, 1994, and 2006, and that while there was some give-back in 1982, there wasn't a massive shift in the opposite direction then or in 1996.
Which makes 2010 a potentially historic and unprecedented "U-Turn" election.
If the GOP wins back the House of Representatives on November 2, it will be the first near back-to-back reversals of political direction in the country's modern political history. If the big shift of 2006-2008 towards the Democrats is followed by a big shift towards the Republicans in 96 days, not only cable commentators but historians will be studying the U Turn for decades to come.
The temptation among liberal journalists will be to declare any such back-to-back seismic shifts "business as usual" for the first election of a new president's term, but that is simply not true as House Republicans actually won more seats under George W. Bush in 2002, picking up a total of eight more above their 2000 totals.
If Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid get clobbered in November --"thumped" was W's term for it in 2006-- it will not be the return of a standard pattern but will represent a profound expression of dismay by voters.
If the MSM and especially the JournoLista alums within it still pledged to blocking for Obama fail to persuade the public that the president hasn't suffered an enormous rejection, they will point next to technology and the accelerating news cycle, the fall out from the decision in Citizens United, and the possibility that the body politic's general immune system has been compromised by a decade of political battles.
All of these things are indeed factors in a shift away from the Democrats that sees the GOP ahead by 10 points in the latest generic ballot poll of likely voters run by Rasmussen.
But the key to the unfolding Democratic disaster are the president's policies. Voters are rejecting TARP, the stimulus. the takeover of GM, Obamacare, wild deficit spending and vast deficits, pending massive tax hikes and pay offs to special interests like those proposed in the so-called DISCLOSE Act.
Voters are disgusted with the waste and the mismanagment, the incredible special interest self-dealing, and the apparently boundless arrogance of Team Obama generally and the president's studied indifference to facts specifically.
The federal fiasco that was and remains the response to the Gulf spill didn't help either, and the threat that EPA will simply take the power to regulate missions that Congress hasn't given it adds to the growing voter anger.
President Obama's approval rating has sunk and sunk again. His fabled ability on the stumpå failed him long ago and the average voter turns the channel rather than listen to yet another sermon from 1600. The MSNBC chorus sings out every night but the network's ratings reflect the shrinking audience for Obamanomics. And Obamacare's roll out isn't producing converst but pecinct captains --for the Republicans!
If Republicans stay focused on the historic failings of the president and his captains in Congress, pounding again and again on the unemployment rate that was never supposed to go above 8% because of the the stimulus, the massive and wasteful spending that has vanished with the only trace being roadside signs congratulating the Congress on their great work, and the incredible growth of the federal power, they will see voters make the sharp turn that the country desperately needs.
When it happens, the GOP will have to move quickly --within weeks-- to outline a new approach and then dare the president and his remaining allies in the Senate to block it. 2011 will be a full year of confrontation with a president almost certain not to be chastened but angry. To make any impression on the president's certainty about his own gifts will require a huge jolt that only a major electoral defeat can deliver. If next year is to really launch the American recovery it has to begin with a decisive repudiation of the president and the party that led us into this mess.
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