Posted: 8:41 pm Tuesday, November 11th, 2014
By Jamie Dupree
As the lame duck session of the Congress begins on Wednesday afternoon, Democrats return to Capitol Hill looking at election losses that will see them not only in the minority in both the U.S. House and Senate, but also in a number of state legislatures around the country.
“Look, the last election that produced so few House Democrats was the one in 1928,” said Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) in an email to his supporters, acknowledging the hard truth about what happened at the polls last week.
“The last election that produced so few Democrats in state legislatures was the one in 1928,” Grayson added.
It’s left Democratic leaders – like their national party chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) searching for answers.
The response so far has been muted, though one more liberal Democrat from the Washington, D.C. suburbs made clear that it’s time for something different:
.@DWStweets is right: Dems need a thorough, honest analysis of what went wrong Tues. Business as usual is not the clarion call we need now
— Gerry Connolly (@GerryConnolly) November 9, 2014
But as of right now, Democrats seem unlikely to follow through with any leadership shakeup in the House and/or Senate, as they look at some sobering facts about their party:
+ Democrats will have their smallest minority in the Congress since they had only 188 members in 1946; with a few wins in races still to be decided, it could be the smallest group of Democrats since the 164 elected in 1928.
+ There are no more “Blue Dog” or “Boll Weevil” white, conservative Democrats from the South, as that familiar branch of the party has now totally disappeared with the defeat of Rep. John Barrow of Georgia.
+ Democrats will have their smallest number of Senators since 2004.
+ Democrats also lost more ground in state legislatures, as Republicans now control 70 percent of the nation’s legislative chambers, the weakest position for Democrats since before the Civil War.
"Democrats will control the lowest number of state legislatures since 1860." http://t.co/6VB1aCkTK9
— Peter Wehner (@Peter_Wehner) November 9, 2014
+ Democrats now only fully control the legislature and Governor in seven states, while the GOP is at 23 states.
In other words, 2014 was not a firewall for the Democrats as some in the party had hoped just over a week ago.
“For the stunned and disillusioned and demoralized Democrats coming back to Washington, the one bright spot – now they can get legal marijuana here in the District,” quipped political analyst Norm Ornstein.
But let’s remember a bit of history – all those people who told me the GOP had a lock on Congress and the White House, or how the Democrats had a lock on Congress and the White House – they were wrong.
There is a natural ebb and flow, and it could even swing back towards the Democrats in 2016. But that is two years away.
Update on close election races
As I detailed yesterday, Democrats could be in danger of losing several more seats in the 114th Congress; one of them held by Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ) is now pretty much assured of going to a recount, as Barber trails Republican challenger Martha McSally by just 133 votes in Arizona’s 2nd district.
“This is the closest congressional election in Arizona history,” said Barber in a statement. “The law calls for an automatic recount in a race this close, and that is where we are headed.”
Elections officials on Tuesday also began counting some of the outstanding ballots in Alaska, moving through the first 15,000-17,500 votes on Tuesday; officials estimate over 50,000 ballots are still to be counted, as Republican Dan Sullivan’s lead over Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) grew to almost 8,800 votes – and overnight, the AP and other news organizations declared Sullivan the winner.
Meanwhile, more votes are expected to be counted on Wednesday in three different U.S. House races in California; Democrats control all three seats, but find GOP challengers ahead in two of those races.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.