|House of Representatives - No change|
Right now the President is a Democrat, the Democrats loosely control the Senate, and the Republicans control the House.
Come November 7, the Democrats will most probably control the Senate, the Republicans the House, and Obama will enter his second term.
So how will the next eight years shape up? Here’s one view. It all depends on Obama:
In practice, then, Democrats have just one election that gives them a remotely fair chance to win: the presidential election. They have no chance to control the House or to wield effective control over the Senate. The whole weight of the party’s agenda — protecting health-care reform, progressive taxation, and everything else that might be mowed down by Republican-controlled government — rests on Barack Obama’s shoulders.
Why? Because only the presidency is really up for grabs:
Second, the political system that exists gives the Democratic Party almost noThat’s why who wins the presidency is so important to tens of millions of less-advantaged Americans.
margin for error. The House is locked into the GOP for another eight years. The Senate, meanwhile, is tilted very heavily to the GOP. The Senate over-represents people who live in small states, and people who live in small states lean Republican. (That’s why George W. Bush won 30 states in 2000 even while slightly losing the popular vote.) All things being equal, Republicans will enjoy a pretty large Senate majority.
The two parties have approached this underlying fact differently. Republicans have instilled powerful discipline on their Senators, giving them almost no leeway to depart from the conservative line. In several cases, the party’s almost fanatical discipline has made it risk or throw away seats, by driving electable moderates out and nominating crazies. The upside to this strategy is that the Republicans who do win recognize that they have to toe the party line. Basically, Republicans are spending down their natural Senate majority, making their party smaller but much more disciplined.
Democrats have the opposite approach. Forced to hold Republican-leaning territory, they give their candidates wide latitude to break from the party. The upside is that this helps Democrats hold more Senate seats than they should. The downside is that many of these Senators fear identifying too closely with their party. In 2001, twelve Democrats in the Senate voted for the Bush tax cuts. Democrats appear well-poised to hold the Senate in 2012, but anybody counting on this to restrain a President Romney is probably deluded.