The Washington Post

President Obama is wrong. Democrats don’t always get “clobbered” in midterm elections.

According to President Obama, his party always gets "clobbered" in midterm elections, a trend he is hoping that by identifying he can help reverse this November. It's a part of theme -- BE AFRAID OF OF THE MIDTERMS! -- Obama has been hammering at Democratic fundraisers for the past few months.

In this March 17, 2014 file photo, President Obama speaks in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

While Obama's predictions of Democratic doom are true in the most recent  midterm (see 2010), the president seems to forget the drubbings that Democrats have given Republicans in midterms past over the last 30 years.

Democrats trounced Republicans in 2006, picking up 31 House and six Senate seats, enough for a majority in each chamber. In 1998 the party vastly outperformed expectations, picking up five seats in the House and leaving Republicans unable to increase a 10-vote margin in the Senate. Democrats really won big in 1982, claiming 27 House seats, and even bigger in 1986, when they took control of the Senate.

While poor showings are often blamed on lackluster turnout, the elections can often hinge on the current occupant of the Oval Office. When Democrats gained seats in 1998, it was the first time since 1934 that the president's party had gained ground during a midterm election. And who was president? Bill Clinton, whose popularity within the Democratic base had surged amid Republican impeachment proceedings in Congress. In 2006, George W. Bush was deeply unpopular and  Democrats won. Republicans also won big in 1994 and clobbered, to borrow a word, Democrats in 2010.

Obama has an incentive to increase his party's sense of urgency. He made the remarks Thursday night at a fundraiser in Miami. A few hundred miles to the northwest last week Republican David Jolly beat Democrat Alex Sink in a special House election that turned on the Affordable Care Act.

Katie Zezima is a national political correspondent covering the 2016 presidential election. She previously served as a White House correspondent for The Post.



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Chris Cillizza · March 21, 2014

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