Of Elections Past

by Brien Jackson

In response to some commetors wondering how the 1934 midterms fit into a broader narrative in which the economic state determines the outcome of elections, Yglesias writes:

The absolute level in 1934 was very bad, but there was sharp improvement at the time, reversing years of collapse and stagnation. By contrast the recession of the early 1990s was followed by a so-called “jobless recovery.”

As many commentors point out, this isn’t quite right. The “early 90’s” may have been a jobless recovery, but that was over when Clinton took office. Indeed, 1994 was one of the best years for job growth since the New Deal. So, again, 1994 is still best understood as te culmination of two trends; a general antipathy towards incumbents in the short run, and the shift of the South away from Democrats in the long run.

Still, the fundamental point, that Democrats best bet for future electoral success is for the economic situation to improve, or at least for the public to perceive Democrats as doing something, is a sound one.