In a recent article in American Enterprise’s american.com, in an Examiner blogpost, and in an Examiner column last Sunday, I noted that the parties’ percentages of the popular vote for president in the last three elections has been very close to their percentages of the popular vote for the House in the offyear election two years before. That’s bad news for Democrats for 2012, because Republicans won the popular vote for the House in 2010 by a 52 to 45 percent margin.
By the same token, it is worth noting that Republicans carried the statewide popular vote for House in states with 351 electoral votes to 184 for the Democrats (to which, for presidential election purposes, one should add 3 more for the District of Columbia).
Were the 2012 presidential race to pan out thi way, it would be the strongest showing for Republicans since 1988. Could it happen? Two good articles out today argue that it could. On the Weekly Standard blog, Jay Cost looks at Barack Obama’s job approval ratings and trends in party identification (the latter is something I discussed in my Wednesday Examiner column). And over at National Journal, Josh Kraushaar looks at poll numbers in key states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, all of which Obama carried in 2008.
A lot can happen between now and November 2012, and much depends on the strength of the Republican nominee. But the clear drift of these numbers is that Obama is not in nearly as good a shape for reelection as conventional wisdom in Washington supposes.