Flashback: Clinton Lost 54 House Seats in His First Midterm, Obama Lost Over 60


The 2018 midterm election has come and gone, and the much-touted “blue wave” turned out to be more of a slow leak.

While the GOP actually fared very well in the Senate, Democrats have won enough seats to take control of the House, proving something everybody already knew: America is divided.

While liberal pundits are pointing to the House wins as a repudiation of President Donald Trump, history tells a very different story. The left may want to save the gloating: All things considered, Republicans have done very well.

At similar points in their own presidencies — 1994 and 2010 — Presidents Clinton and Obama watched their party lose far more congressional seats than the Republicans did on Tuesday.

Back in 1994, congressional control shifted when second-year President Bill Clinton and his party gave up 54 seats in the House. It was the same story in 2010 when President Obama watched as liberals suffered a major midterm loss of 63 seats.

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“Barack Obama was today facing a harsh new U.S. political reality in the wake of one of the worst Democratic defeats for 70 years,” The Guardian wrote the day after the midterm election in 2010.

“Obama faces a hard political lesson after a hammering that wiped away the last vestiges of the euphoria that swept him to the White House,” the newspaper continued.

In contrast, the 2018 midterm election took only 27 House seats from Republicans. At the same time, they actually increased their control of the Senate. When put in contrast to the last two Democrat presidents, it’s not so bad after all.

It’s worth pointing out that the media has absolutely hounded Trump, constantly portraying him as incompetent, racist, or some combination of both. They fawned over Obama and Clinton. Despite this uphill battle for the president and his party, Republicans came out of the woods on Tuesday largely unscathed.

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Comparing presidential poll numbers tells a similar story. People are largely split in their opinions on Trump, but he has still managed to do better than Obama at the same point in his presidency in recent approval polls.

“The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Wednesday shows that 48% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance,” Rasmussen reported the day after the 2018 midterm election. “This gives him a Presidential Approval Index rating of -5.”

But how did Obama look on the same day in 2010?

Shockingly, he had a Presidential Approval Index rating of -18, which is far worse. Forty-six percent of likely voters approved of Obama on November 7, 2010 — yes, two percentage points lower than Trump enjoys now.

Again, Trump’s numbers are after some of the harshest mainstream media opposition and vilification of any recent president.

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And remember, both Clinton and Obama went on to be re-elected even after taking hard hits in the midterm, which means that Trump is actually in a surprisingly good position for 2020.

The reality is that American politics are cyclical. There are patterns, ebbs and flows. After eight years of a Democratic president, the pendulum of the country swung toward Trump.

Now it is swinging slightly toward the opposition party in Congress, as it has done under previous administrations. All told, Republicans held their own. The left will try to spin this as a great win for Democrats and a rejection of Trump, but the facts show that this simply isn’t the case.

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Benjamin Arie is an independent journalist and writer. He has personally covered everything ranging from local crime to the U.S. president as a reporter in Michigan before focusing on national politics. Ben frequently travels to Latin America and has spent years living in Mexico.