The GOP’s Lock On Congress

Chait declares that “Democrats stand almost no visible prospect of attaining a government majority”:

The structural advantages undergirding Republican control of both chambers of Congress are so imposing that only extraordinary circumstances could overwhelm them. Democrats managed, briefly, to gain control of Congress when the catastrophe of the Bush presidency created two successive national wave elections in their favor.

Only that sort of freakish event would suffice.

And Democrats might notice that, since winning back Congress requires a backlash against the president, their “positive” scenario requires first surrendering to Republicans’ total control of government. As long as Democrats hold the White House, Republican control of Congress is probably safe — at least for several election cycles to come.

The second conclusion is simpler, and more bracing: Hillary Clinton is the only thing standing between a Republican Party even more radical than George W. Bush’s version and unfettered control of American government.

But Suderman argues that last night was bad news for Clinton:

Knowing Clinton, she’ll likely attempt a tailored version of the strategy that Democrats in close races adopted this time around—positioning herself as separate from the president but not actively opposed to him. She’ll highlight the parts of policies that are widely liked, but acknowledge that many need to be fixed, tweaked, or updated—while providing as few specifics as possible about what those specifics should be. Indeed, to some extent, this is already the approach that Clinton has taken, vaguely moving away from Obama in ways designed to cause as little real friction as possible. She’ll be neither with Obama nor against him, emphasizing distance but not disagreement.

That awkward, fence-straddling approach led to some slightly ridiculous moments, and ultimately failed to work for Democrats in this year’s midterm. It’s not likely to work for Clinton (or any other Democratic nominee) in 2016 either.