The Republican Resurgence in 2010

Gary C. Jacobson
Content Type
Journal Article
Political Science Quarterly
Issue Number
Publication Date
Spring 2011
Academy of Political Science
The 2010 midterm elections produced a stunning reversal of partisan fortunes. Back-to-back surges in 2006 and 2008 had raised the Democrats ʼ share of seats in the House of Representatives from 202 to 257 and in the Senate from 45 to 59.1 The 2010 election erased all of their House gains and more, with Republicans gaining a net 64 seats to win a 242-193 majority, their best showing since 1946 (Table 1). Republicans also picked up 6 Senate seats, leaving them with 47 and within striking distance of a majority in 2012, when 23 of the 33 seats at stake will be defended by Democrats. The election was also a major setback for President Barack Obama and his administration. The Republican ascendancy in Congress not only promises to block progress on his remaining agenda but also puts his signal legislative achievements, notably health care reform and financial regulation, at risk. The election also virtually guarantees bitter partisan trench warfare and record levels of polarization during the remaining two years of Obamaʼs term.