Democrats are in deep trouble 6 months away from the midterm election. How bad will it be? 2010 Tea Party bad? 1994 Gingrich Revolution bad?
In 1894, West Virginia had 4 congressmen. All were Democrats. All lost re-election. It was part of a sweep in which Republicans gained 130 seats in a 357-seat House of Representatives. Democrats lost more than half their seats as Republicans re-gained the House -- and would control it for the next 16 years.
West Virginia was not alone in wiping themselves clean of Democrats. Illinois went from an 11-11 split to a 22-0 shutout by Republicans. Indiana went from an 11-2 advantage by Democrats to a 13-0 shutout by Republicans. Michigan went 12-0, Minnesota 7-0, Nebraska 6-0, New Jersey 8-0, and Wisconsin 10-0. (That's Wisconsin's state capitol above.)
The House historian quoted one of the losers, Democrat Champ Clark of Missouri, who said, "It was the greatest slaughter of innocents since the days of King Herod."
Well, it was not a shift of biblical proportion but it was the greatest political shift in congressional history. Republicans should stockpile their brooms because Democrats are due an ousting. From her perch in the hills of Western Pennsylvania, Salena Zito sees a possible 1894-level leveling of Democrats.
Zito outlined why Grover Cleveland and his party lost.
She wrote, "The Democrats had woefully handled every crisis that came their way that year. And their use of the press as a weapon against the people had backfired. America was in the middle of the Gilded Age — when agricultural markets crashed, the railroads were the next domino to fall, then the steel industry, and then manufacturing.
"Cleveland hesitated to act. When he finally tried to repeal the Silver Purchase Act in an attempt to strengthen gold, it was too late. His move caused a bank run and a stock market crash, unemployment neared 20%, and voters wanted the lot of his party thrown out.
"Making Democrats' problems even worse was a new populist movement — a left-wing faction of the party that was siphoning off the support of farmers and laborers especially. They were furious over Democrats being in bed with big business."
Many of the issues of 1894 have echoes 128 years later. Supply chain issues (railroad strikes), food shortages (farm problems) and there also was a war (Cuba).
This year, there are the party's hare-brained stands on social issues such as CRT and grooming kindergarteners. Moms and grandmas are likely more worried about the shortage of baby formula than they are about blocking abortions after 15 weeks.
But the pandemic looms over this election like storm clouds.
The Center Square reported, "Voters in Wisconsin, by large margins, want to see more parents involved in their kids' schools, more police officers on the streets, and more people getting back to work in the state.
"The Badger Institute on Tuesday released results from a poll conducted by the State Policy Network. The poll shows broad support for education and welfare reforms, and shows support for a return to more policing."
The sudden interest in education stems from Zoom classes. Parents discovered what their children really were learning in school. Parents did not like it. School issues (including two rapes by a transgender in the girls room) led to the first Republicans sweep last year in a state election in Virginia's history.
Between CRT and the push of LGBT propaganda, parents are voting to flip school boards back. This should carry over into congressional races.
People in Wisconsin also saw what BLM wrought in Kenosha and Waukesha. This may lead to a 5-3 Republican advantage in Wisconsin's House delegation to an 8-0 shutout.
Ah, but what about abortion?
Reuters reported, "Laura Wilson is a mother of three who lives in the sprawling suburbs of north Phoenix, a hotly contested electoral area of Arizona that could decide which party controls the U.S. Senate after November's congressional elections.
"Wilson, 61, is pro-choice, voted for Democratic President Joe Biden, and knew all about the news last week that the U.S. Supreme Court is likely poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision giving women the right to an abortion.
"Yet Wilson said she is undecided about who she will vote for this November, and abortion rights are not a priority for her.
"'It's the economy and jobs,' Wilson said. She said she was disappointed in Biden, because of high inflation and 'too many homeless people on the streets.'
"Wilson was one of 21 women interviewed by Reuters in the northern suburbs of Phoenix -- a key area for Democratic Senator Mark Kelly's efforts to hold onto his seat -- after news of the Supreme Court draft ruling broke. Most of the women said inflation, not abortion, was the galvanizing issue for them."
Salena Zito is seldom blatantly partisan. She is a smart cookie who knows you should show, not say.
But she has had it.
She wrote in her 1894, "Democrats are treating the crime issue like it's a parlor game. Spend any time listening to the police scanners in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., or Chicago, and you will find the problem is very real and out of control. The blame lands right in the hands of Democrats, who thought it was a great idea to spend two years either calling for the police to be eliminated or defunded in their cities.
"Democrats' negligence at the border is having an effect as well — not just on Texans in the Rio Grande Valley but also on the suburban parents in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and Butler County, Pennsylvania. They are suddenly finding that fentanyl has made its way into their circles and taken hold of their children or their friends. Democrats seem not to understand that voters see a crisis with no plan to remedy it.
"Meanwhile, no one is shaking off inflation as a passing phase — it is real, and it is hurting all of us. Hardest hit are the working poor and the middle class. No one in Biden's administration or the Democrats' House and Senate majorities seems to have a message that they are in control of this — that there is some sense of a clear economic plan, at least to get things moving along the right path."
She does not believe it will be 1894, but rather a 2010.
However, she wrote, "Grover Cleveland, like Joe Biden, remained both stubborn and stuck — both ahead of those midterm elections and in his final two years in office. He tried to weaponize the press against the farmers and the working class. He continued to hold the same positions, including a commitment to free trade, that turned voters away from him."
The only buffer for Democrats this year is that states like West Virginia and Wisconsin already have Republican congressmen.
But what about Illinois? 14 of its 17 seats are Democrat.
What about New York? 18 of its 26 seats are Democrat.
What about California? 42 of its 52 seats are Democrat.
Democrats hold 74 seats, Republicans 21 in those states. What if that flipped? Unlikely? It was as unlikely as Alabama losing a seat to Republicans in 1894, but it did. In fact, it lost 2 seats to Republicans and 2 to the Populist Party.
In 1894, Democrat incompetence cost Democrats their strongholds. They lost 16 House seats in New York, which almost wiped out Tammany Hall because there were no patronage jobs to hand out or pork barrels to roll.
1894 led to Democrats abandoning Cleveland in 1896 and handing over the White House to Republicans, who held it for 16 years.
Republicans may not have as big a gain this year but even a 40-seat gain would give them their largest majority in nearly a century. And certainly 16 years of a Republican White House would Make America Great Again.
The issues are there. The foundation is laid. It is up to Republicans to build.