Stu Rothenberg, of the Rothenberg Political Report, notes the unusual volatility of recent electoral history, and speculates on whether it can continue for a fourth consecutive cycle.
The definition of a “wave election” is one in which at least 20 House seats swing from one party to the other. From 1986 to 2004 (that’s 10 elections) it happened only once, and in eight of those 10, the swing was in single digits.
Now it has happened three times in a row (Dems plus 31 seats in 2006, Dems plus 20 in 2008, Repubs plus 63 in 2010).
Rothenberg doesn’t offer much of a hypothesis about the recent volatility, and speculates in a very general way about scenarios for 2012. If the economy improves much, it will be good for all incumbents, so Obama’s reelection prospects improve but so do the prospects of congressional Repubs. If the economy stagnates or declines, the Repubs will blame Obama while the Dems will blame House Repubs for blocking change that would have made it. Whichever side wins the blame game will pick up seats in 2012.