Expert Source: Post-Midterm Elections
BOSTON COLLEGE ASST. PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE DAVID HOPKINS
David Hopkins is an expert on the American political parties and elections, the US Congress voting behavior and public opinion. He is co-author of Presidential Elections: Strategies and Structures of American Politics. His current research includes a project investigating the causes and consequences of increasing geographic polarization in American elections.
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For the fourth time in the past five elections, Americans have voted against the party in the White House. Last night was the latest example, as Republicans took control of the Senate, sending an unmistakable message to President Obama and Democrats that governing in the next two years may be more difficult than ever.
“The size and scope of the victories will encourage congressional Republicans to adopt an aggressive legislative approach vis-a-vis the White House,” says Boston College Assistant Professor of Political Science David Hopkins, Ph.D., a Congressional scholar.“It is likely that we’ll see more budgetary/debt ceiling crises over the next two years, with Republicans attempting to use approval of spending and debt ceiling bills as leverage for extracting policy concessions on expenditures, taxes, environmental regulation, and health care reform. Now that Republicans control the Senate, Obama will also face considerable difficulty in winning confirmation of his judicial and executive branch nominees over the remaining two years of his term.”
Both parties have enjoyed the partisan waves in recent years with Democrats having success in 2006 and 2008, while Republicans saw gains in 2010 and 2014. Historically, this is an unusual amount of partisan stability, Hopkins says, and points to 1994 as being the only wave year prior to 2006.
“It appears that chronic popular dissatisfaction with the direction of the country is leading voters to express their frustration by repeatedly voting against the party holding the White House,” says Hopkins, whose recent publications include the article,"The Political Geography of Party Resurgence." “While the national economy is growing (modestly) and unemployment is falling (also modestly), most Americans tell pollsters that they perceive the health of the economy to be weak (perhaps reflecting a stagnant labor market and lack of wage growth) and that they see the country as ‘off on the wrong track’ overall. Obama benefited from this widespread gloom in 2008, which worked against the then-ruling Republicans, but now he and his fellow Democrats have been the targets of this broad dissatisfaction for the second consecutive midterm election.”
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