Midterm elections are notoriously tricky business for the political parties of the sitting president. The drubbings experienced by Democrats in 1994 and Republicans in 2006 serve as the two most obvious recent examples.
But while history has a funny way of repeating itself, one of the key players in the off-year upending of Bill Clinton's first term said on Wednesday that he saw absolutely no evidence of anything close to a repeat performance in 2010. His two main reasons: party unity behind the president and Dick Cheney.
Stan Greenberg served as chief pollster to President Clinton during his campaign and early years in office. Quite famously, he took the fall for a 54-seat swing in the House in '94, though, in his book -- "Dispatches From the War Room" -- Greenberg says he warned Clinton of the ominous clouds on the horizon. Sixteen years later, the Democracy Corps founder detects no such foreboding political signs; if anything, just the opposite.
"What happened during 1993 with Clinton... is just so different, so, so different than now," he told the Huffington Post. "Starting with the fact that Democrats were fighting with each other back then. Clinton's main opponents at the onset were not Republicans. They were fellow Democrats like Sam Nunn. Conservative Democrats were attacking us on gays in the military, the economic package... Then, ultimately, Newt Gingrich emerged as kind of insurgent congressional leader and channeled the GOP and was the voice of change in the 1994 election."
"And I look at what is happening now," he continued. "One: Democrats are very united behind the president, combined with the fact that Dick Cheney of all people has emerged in the first 100 days as the voice of the opposition. George Bush, the father, and that administration disappeared. They were not part of the scene. At 100 days, we are still fighting change versus more of the same, with Dick Cheney being the voice of the opposition. You know Karl Rove has his column in the Wall Street Journal cheerleading the opposition movement. The Bush-Cheney names are still the opposition. And so it is a totally different environment [than '93]."
Greenberg says that his data and analysis show, "if anything," Democrats holding on to or gaining seats in 2010, with the caveat that "some awful things can happen." The problem, however, may be that -- at least in the House of Representatives -- there simply aren't that many remaining opportunities for growth. As David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager, noted in his much-discussed square off with Karl Rove, there are, right now, only "four or five House seats that you can plausibly suggest the Democrats have a chance of winning. We've won pretty much all there was to win in the last two elections."