The 2012 Elections – What Will Congress Look Like Afterwards?

By YeOldeScribe ~ April 27th, 2011 @ 10:54 pm

Predicting a Congressional election more than a year out is kind of like trying to pick the winner of the Super Bowl before the season even starts – there’s a really good chance you’ll get it wrong. But also like picking the Super Bowl, you can tell a lot about who’s going to win by looking at the team’s roster, checking out how they preformed last year, and make some reasonable extrapolations about what they’ll do based on the schedule. We’re not going to try and break down the 400+ elections going on across the country individually, because our writer does need to sleep occasionally. What we’re going to do instead is take a look at why the Republicans won big in 2010, what they’ve done so far in 2011, examine some issues congress will face in 2011-12, and guess what the political climate will be like in November of 2012. From there, we should be able to come up with a good hypothesis on what Congress might look like after the 2012 Elections are finished.

How the Republicans won in 2010

This one is easy – the Republicans won because upon being elected en masse to Congress (and the White House, for that matter), the Democrats forgot who got them there – the Independents. Once the Democrats had all the power, they abused it – and the Republicans cried foul. Independents agreed, and gave Democrats the boot.

What’s happened in 2010-11

Well, in Congress, both the Democrats and the Republicans have not done any favors for themselves. Both parties were going in opposite directions on the FY 2011 Budget before President Obama made them agree on something. Republicans are actually more unified on the FY 2012 budget than Democrats are. The Dems were able to score some victories in the Lame Duck session of Congress, but most of the credit for those victories probably belongs to President Obama.

What’s on tap for 2011-12?

Well, one of the biggest issues will be deciding the FY 2012 budget – and we’re not sure where that one’s heading yet. Right now, that’s probably leaning in favor of the Republicans, because they seem to all be on board with Rep. Ryan’s proposal, while some Democrats don’t like some of the cuts their President is proposing. Another big issue (if it happens) would be changes to Health Care Reform, which would also be a Republican victory. So just looking at what’s on tap, things actually look good for Republican congressmen and women.

What will the electoral climate be like in 2012?

Here’s where things start to take a turn for Republicans. Remember all the hype that the Obama campaign created? Remember how you actually could feel the positive vibe from his campaign and his speeches? You actually believed in the “Change you can believe in” slogan, even though you knew all politicians are crooks and liars. What you probably don’t remember doing is voting Democratic for your representatives to the House and Senate – but chances are you did it. Democrats made huge gains in both houses of Congress and took back the White House that year. And let’s not forget, Obama’s putting the proverbial band back together, gathering the same election crew that gave him the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. back in place for 2012.

So the Democrats will do what they’ve been doing since the 2008 elections – riding on Obama’s popularity. And if you think Obama’s popularity is low (right now it’s hovering between 45-50%), you should take a look at how popular Congress is amongst the electorate right now. Let’s just say that they’d make Charlie Sheen look like America’s Sweetheart in comparison. The most recent approval numbers for Congress according to CBS News/New York Times are 16% approve, 75% disapprove. That’s almost a 60-point difference, folks. If Congress were given a grade from that approval rating, it would be an F-minus. So according to the polls, neither party should win. But if history has taught us anything, it’s that Democrats will ride the Obama pony to victory next November.

What will Congress look like after 2012?

Well, even though we’re predicting that Democrats will win some seats back, we don’t think they’re going to win big enough to wrestle back control of the House, nor will they re-establish their super-majority in the Senate. At this point, we think that the Democrats can win back 10-20 seats in the House at most. This would still give the Republicans a majority there, albeit a much smaller one than they currently have. As for the Senate, the Democrats could pick up a seat or two (we’ll go with two) – but no more. So the Senate should look largely the same, while the House will become a little more Democrat-friendly, although the Republicans will still hold the reins.

Again, this is all conjecture, really, and the elections are a long ways off. Much can happen between now and then, and perhaps we’ll re-visit this topic as the 2012 elections draw closer (but hopefully we won’t have to revise our predictions too much). We’re predicting that the Democrats will be able to ride on Obama’s coattails to success in this election, but not to the same degree they did in 2008. Only time will tell, but it’ll be interesting to look back in a couple years and see just how close (or not) we were. What are some of your thoughts? Do you have 2012 being a banner year for either Republicans or Democrats? Discuss in the comments below!

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