Revilo P. Oliver: A Cautionary Tale for the Right

Revilo P. Oliver in 1963

The American right has its heroes and success stories, the most venerated one in recent history being Ronald Reagan. However, there are others who most modern members of the right probably want to run from as fast as they can. Revilo P. Oliver is an example of such a figure except among the alt-right. The political story of Oliver begins with the foundation of the John Birch Society.

In 1958, Robert W. Welch, alarmed at the growth of communism in the world and a perceived growth at home, founded the John Birch Society. Among the original founders was Professor Revilo P. Oliver. Oliver taught the classics at the University of Illinois, was fluent in Spanish and Italian, and served as an intellectual influence as well as a leading spokesman for the John Birch Society. A friend of William F. Buckley Jr. of National Review, until 1964 he wrote book reviews for the publication. Buckley, however, was wary of Oliver writing columns, as he was an anti-Semite and a conspiracy theorist. He was the top promoter of Holocaust denial (which he called the “hoaxocaust”) as well as illuminati and fluoridation conspiracy theories within the John Birch Society. Oliver really believed what he pitched on fluoridation: he kept a small water tank with him to ensure that he consumed no fluoride. He also wrote for the John Birch Society’s magazine, American Opinion, until 1966.

Oliver’s Time in the National Spotlight: The Kennedy Assassination

A few months after the Kennedy assassination, Oliver wrote an article for American Opinion titled “Marxmanship in Dallas”, in which he postulated that a possible reason for John F. Kennedy’s demise was that he was turning on his Soviet masters and was thus assassinated on the orders of Moscow. For this article, he was called before the Warren Commission to testify on September 9, 1964, but he fared poorly under questioning and could not back up his most extreme claims. Ultimately, Oliver could offer no more than speculation.

Oliver’s Fall Into Obscurity and Extreme Hatred: His Speech at the 1966 New England Rally for God, Family, and Country

In July 1966, Oliver delivered a speech titled “Conspiracy or Degeneracy?” before the 1966 New England Rally for God, Family, and Country, in which he stated that problems we face in society would likely still be occurring even if Jews  “€œwere vaporized at dawn tomorrow” (Bevan, 2009). For this speech he was forced to resign from the John Birch Society, after which he denounced the “Birch hoax” and went to darker places. His speeches afterwards were overtly racist and anti-Semitic, including one called “What We Owe Our Parasites”, which he concluded by saying the only thing America owes black Americans if they insist on civil rights was “a free ride to Africa” (Oliver, 1968). Although before audiences of right-wing organizations he would often tout the values of Christian society, he was in fact an atheist and became more staunch in these views as he grew older, thinking of Christianity as encouraging weakness.

In 1974, he founded with William Luther Pierce the National Alliance, an overtly white supremacist organization. Oliver nonetheless continued to teach until his retirement in 1977. He wrote for publications such as the Institute for Historical Review (the purpose of its existence is Holocaust denial) and Liberty Bell, but by this time he attracted no mainstream conservative attention and at this point was outright pro-Nazi, praising the “€œclear-sighted realism” of Reinhard Heydrich, the architect of the Final Solution (Bevan, 2009). To the very end he believed in a Jewish conspiracy that had world domination as its aim. In 1994, Oliver, dying from leukemia and emphysema, took his own life at 86.

Revilo P. Oliver is a cautionary tale for his descent into conspiratorial thinking and hatred. He was more than capable of producing intelligent work (and did in his field of study), but he spent his credibility on racism, antisemitism, and conspiracy theories.  The problem with conspiratorial thinking is that it pushes that the reason certain views don’t gain currency is due to external, unseen forces rather than responsibility on the part of the actors promoting such views or the fact that such views have distinct problems that render them unable to gain majority support.  It is a surrender of responsibility and a sacrifice of the truth in the name of convenience. I see today a creeping embrace of conspiracy theories on the right as the alt-right and conspiracy theorists get more attention. I have seen this from people I have personally encountered as well, including one who questioned whether approximately six million Jews perished in the Holocaust.  Please steer clear of the Oliver types, the road you will go down is a dark one.

References

Bevan, N. (2009, September 22). The Forgotten Conservative. Taki’s Magazine.

Retrieved from http://takimag.com/article/the_forgotten_conservative/

Oliver, R.P. “What We Owe Our Parasites”. Speech delivered to a German-American group at the Lorelei Club in Hamburg, New York, June 9th, 1968.

Retrieved from http://www.revilo-oliver.com/rpo/wwoop.htm

Robert C. Byrd – A Controversial Senator for All Times

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In 1952, the voters of West Virginia’s 6th district elected Democrat Robert C. Byrd (1917-2010), a man with a controversial past. In the prior decade he had been a member and recruiter for the KKK, and although this subject came up against him in multiple campaigns, it never halted his political career. Despite his prior membership in the Klan, he cast his votes for the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960, which although were weak were important steps to stronger legislation. In 1958, he challenged and defeated Senator W. Chapman Revercomb, a Republican who supported civil rights. Byrd voted more or less like you would expect a West Virginia Democrat of the time, largely progressive with a conservative edge or two. He enthusiastically supported the New Frontier under John F. Kennedy, evidenced by his low Americans for Constitutional Action (ACA) score of 7% during the 87th Congress (1961-1962). Byrd, however, drifted away from Northern Democrats in his opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which he filibustered for 14 hours, an act he would later apologize for) and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In both stances, he stood alone in his state’s delegation to Congress. In 1967, he voted against confirming Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court, the only senator outside of the former Confederate states to do so. He also was a firm supporter of the Vietnam War and tended to oppose social liberalism, as his ACA scores moved towards the political center, scoring between 38 and 63 from 1968 to 1974. All this being said, he remained a supporter of the use of the federal government for anti-poverty legislation and was a strong and early supporter of Medicare.

On civil rights, Byrd began to turn to the Northern Democrat side in the early 1970s. The reasoning  here was twofold: 1. Changes in heart due to the times, and 2. He was interested in leadership. In 1971, he managed to best Ted Kennedy for the post of Majority Whip as he had been willing to perform the duties Kennedy was unwilling to do, significantly raising his profile on Capitol Hill. Despite this, Kennedy and Byrd were personal friends. In 1975, he voted for extending the Voting Rights Act of 1965, even though he had opposed the original act and its first extension in 1970. Upon Majority Leader Mike Mansfield’s retirement in 1977, he became the leader of the Senate Democrats.

Byrd had proved a highly knowledgeable and skilled parliamentarian who took his time to master the rules and seldom drank while other senators went to cocktail parties. He was also a master of allocating funds for pork projects, steering billions to West Virginia, as he regarded this as his duty. Byrd also lamented the increased amount of emphasis and power that went to the Executive Branch, stating  “Why so deferential to presidents? Under the Constitution, we have three separate but equal branches of government. How many of us know that? How many of us know that the executive branch is but the equal of the legislative branch – not above it, not below it, but the equal” (NPR)? Although he is an example of how a workhorse can get ahead in politics, he was not without mirth. Byrd was also a talented fiddler, and even released an album of country songs with him performing the vocals as well titled “Mountain Fiddler” (1978).

Byrd led the Senate Democrats until 1987, when he voluntarily chose to step down. In 2001, his past was invoked when on a televised interview he repeatedly used the term “white niggers” to describe young whites into hip-hop and gangsta culture. During the Bush Administration he staunchly opposed the Iraq War, and condemned the Administration as reckless and arrogant, going as far as to write a book, Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency. Yet, among Democrats, he was one of the senators most likely to support Republican nominees for the Supreme Court, voting for both John Roberts and Samuel Alito. In 2008, he backed Barack Obama for the presidency and the following year he voted for the Affordable Care Act, consistent with his longtime support for expanded federal government involvement in healthcare. Byrd died while serving in the institution he loved so much and to this day he stands as the longest serving senator in American history.

 

References

 

Welna, D. (2010, June 28). West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd Dies at 92. National Public Radio.

 

Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128158671

A Senate Seat and Its Connection to a Horrific Lynching

Recently Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) stated positively about a constituent, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row”. While this can be taken to mean that she finds this particular constituent’s appeal so great that she would attend something she otherwise would find horrible and distasteful, the truth is that was a really dumb and careless statement to make. What’s more, there’s a connection between the Senate seat she currently holds and a particularly gruesome lynching.

In 1904, two black laborers in Doddsville, Mississippi, Luther Holbert and Albert Carr, employees at the Eastland plantation, got into a dispute over a woman. The white plantation owner, 21-year old James Eastland, got involved in the dispute and sided with Carr. They visited Holbert, who was with another sharecropper John Winters, telling Holbert to leave the plantation. While it is unknown who fired the first shot, a gunfight broke out, with Holbert shooting and killing Carr and mortally wounding Eastland, who returned fire, killing Winters. His brother, Woods Eastland, was enraged and consequently masterminded one of the worst lynchings in Mississippi’s history, offering $1200 to whoever brought Holbert in alive. Over 200 men and two packs of bloodhounds searched four counties for Holbert and his wife, with this posse killing a total of three black men they mistook for Holbert along the way. After Holbert and his wife were found, they were “were tortured with corkscrews that pulled out hunks of flesh. Their fingers were cut off, one by one, and distributed among the crowd as souvenirs” (Lacayo, 2000). They were both subsequently burned at the stake, with around 1000 people watching the savage spectacle, as the lynching had been scheduled and advertised in local newspapers. I should note here that Holbert’s wife had not participated in the gunfight.

Although Woods Eastland turned himself in when he was charged with murder, he was released when it became clear that no jury was going to indict him. No one faced any legal consequences for this barbaric deed. That winter, his wife gave birth to a boy, who he named after his late brother. Woods Eastland, already from a wealthy family, rose further in the community, becoming a part of the justice system as a district attorney. He became more politically connected as the years passed by and was a personal friend of Governor Paul Johnson. Upon the death of Senator Pat Harrison in 1941, Johnson proposed that he be appointed senator in his place. Woods, perhaps fearing the 1904 lynching would again be in the papers, declined and instructed his son take the appointment.

James Eastland would serve in the Senate until 1978 and was a leading voice for Jim Crow, often stating that blacks were inferior. As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he made the committee a “graveyard” for civil rights legislation, and his committee had to be circumvented for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to pass. Eastland, a friend of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy, connected the civil rights movement to communism. He also opposed the Great Society anti-poverty programs, Medicare, and federal aid to education while backing farm subsidies. Despite his reputation as one of the Senate’s leading foes of civil rights, many senators outside the South gave him high marks for collegiality. Ted Kennedy stated about him, “I always respected him, for both his knowledge and his civility as a senator” (Shogan, 1986).  Regarding the lynching, Senator Eastland was embarrassed about it as he had shielded his own children from the story, and they didn’t learn of it until adulthood. After the 1960s, he chose to lay low on civil rights issues and even started to court the black vote, striking a personal friendship with Mississippi NAACP chair Aaron Henry and his office becoming responsive to the issues of the state’s black voters in his final term in office. However, his political moves came to little and too late. When Eastland asked Henry about whether he could earn black support for another term in 1978, he replied “Your chances of getting support in the black community are poor at best. You have a master-servant philosophy with regard to blacks”, which led the old man to break down in tears (Hunter, 1986).

Despite earning the support of President Carter and Henry for his reelection bid, a bid for a final term would have been a tough fight and not one the aging senator had the energy for, so he chose to retire. After his departure from the Senate, he didn’t apologize for his past stances yet remained friends with Henry and contributed substantial sums to the NAACP. Eastland’s successor was Thad Cochran, the first Republican to represent the state since Reconstruction, and Cindy Hyde-Smith is his successor.

 

References

Annis, J.L. (2016). Big Jim Eastland: The godfather of Mississippi.

Asch, C.M. (2008). The senator and the sharecropper: The freedom struggles of James O. Eastland and Fannie Lou Hamer. New York, NY: The New Press.

Hunter, M. (1986, February 20). James O. Eastland is Dead at 81; Leading Senate Foe of Integration. The New York Times.

Retrieved from

https://www.nytimes.com/1986/02/20/obituaries/james-o-eastland-is-dead-at-81-leading-senate-foe-of-integration.html

Lacayo, R. (2000, April 2). Blood At The Root. Time Magazine.

Retrieved from

http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,42301,00.html

Shogan, R. (1986, February 20). Ex-Mississippi Sen. Eastland Dies at Age 81. Los Angeles Times.

Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com/1986-02-20/news/mn-9797_1_mississippi-sen

 

The Last Chair of the House Un-American Activities Committee

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The House Un-American Activites Committee is now a distant memory, but from 1939 to 1975 it stood as a Congressional committee that actively investigated communism. The last of its chairmen was Richard Ichord (1926-1992), a Missouri Democrat who was most certainly not like any Democrat of today.

Elected to Congress in 1960, Ichord supported most New Frontier initiatives but stood strongly opposed to foreign aid. His tune towards activist government would change with the Great Society. While he supported a few Great Society initiatives, he grew more skeptical of anti-poverty legislation and consistently backed anti-communist riders to foreign aid legislation. After the retirement of chair Edwin Willis (D-La.) in 1969, Ichord brought some changes to the committee, including changing the name to the Internal Security Committee as well as narrowing the functions of the committee. However, these measures did not placate HUAC’s critics, who believed the committee was itself un-American and had outlived whatever purpose it may have had. A supporter of the Nixon Administration’s war policy, in 1969 he charged that the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam had many pro-communists and communists in its leadership (Rosenbaum, 1970). In 1972, in response to Jane Fonda’s visit to Hanoi, Ichord sponsored with Georgia Republican Fletcher Thompson legislation that would make it a felony to travel to a nation that is in a state of war with the United States (Bosworth). The legislation failed to pass under suspension of the rules and was not brought up again.

The Internal Security Committee ultimately fell victim to the fallout of Watergate, as the 1974 election had brought many liberals to Congress, which enabled Rep. Phil Burton (D-Calif.) to abolish the committee with stealthy and swift procedural maneuvering. Ichord’s major role in Congress had concluded with the end of the committee. Although he had voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, he held such an unfavorable view of Martin Luther King Jr. that he was one of only 11 members of the House to vote against a bust or statue for him in the Capitol building in 1979. The following year, Ichord opted not to run for reelection and subsequently became a lobbyist for anti-communist causes.

References

Bosworth, P.E. (2011). Jane Fonda: The private life of a public woman. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Rosenbaum, D.E. (1970, October 15). House Panel Lists ‘Radical’ Speakers. The New York Times.

Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/1970/10/15/archives/house-panel-lists-radical-speakers.html

To Agree to H. Con. Res. 80, Authorizing a Bust or Statue of Martin Luther King Jr. to be Placed in the Capitol. Govtrack.

Retrieved from https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/96-1979/h367

 

Phillip Burton: The Father of Modern California…and Congress

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For the best understanding of California’s current political environment, one should not look at the men California has produced for the presidency, for the politics of California match neither those of Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan. Despite the claims of liberals and conservatives alike, Richard Nixon was not in actuality a liberal, a subject I covered at length in a previous post. Ronald Reagan of course is a no go, for this state today will not elect him in the event he came back to life or anyone else of his ideological viewpoint today. California’s making into a liberal state was the long-term product of the efforts of a man who has been dead for 35 years…Phillip Burton (1926-1983).

Phillip Burton, a lawyer by profession, first held major political office upon his election to the California State Assembly in 1956, representing San Francisco. In 1964, he was elected to Congress and stood out as a staunch liberal. He was an early critic of the Vietnam War, voting against appropriating funds as early as 1965, one of only three members of the House to do so. Burton was both extremely liberal and a ruthless political genius. By the early 1970s he had become one of the most powerful members of his party by allying with Ohio’s Wayne Hays, the mean-spirited head of the House Administration Committee who wielded power partly through his control of the air conditioning of House office buildings. It was a suitable fit, as Burton himself was an abrasive and tyrannical figure who was second to none in how hard he worked his staff. In less than ten years in the House, Burton had become the most powerful ultra-leftist to hold legislative power, easily being the third most powerful member of the chamber. He was also able to court numerous conservative representatives from the South through his support of continuing agricultural subsidies, which were coming under increasing attack from otherwise liberal Democrats in the North. He had a number of legislative accomplishments in office as well, including playing a major role in passage of legislation establishing the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration, mine safety regulations, and the expansion of national parks.

In 1973, Burton forever changed Congress when he pushed Ways and Means Committee chair Wilbur Mills (D-Ark.) to let a bill to go to the floor without a “closed rule” for the first time since the 1920s “as an experiment”, which resulted in a flood of lobbyists descending upon Washington to add projects into bills (Frum, 278-279). The influence of lobbyists on the legislative process has increased substantially since. The following year he managed to abolish the House Committee on Un-American Activities, a committee he had always opposed, through parliamentary maneuvering that transferred the committee to be under the jurisdiction of his ally, Don Edwards (D-Calif.), who proceeded to abolish the committee (Jacobs). Save for the chairman, all members of the committee were convinced to leave in favor of seats on better committees. Burton also played a significant role in the ousting of Southern Democratic chairmen, which I covered in a previous post. In 1976, Burton ran for Majority Leader, a post he lost by one vote to Texas’s Jim Wright, who had been in office nine years longer and was more moderate.

In 1980, Burton masterminded a redistricting plan to keep Democratic seats safe with certain districts so outrageously gerrymandered to the extent that he called it “my contribution to modern art” (Devoe). The redistricting proved effective: despite earning only 49% of the vote in the 1982 House election, Democrats won 60% of California’s seats. There was also a personal element in this redistricting plan: he wanted to boot ultra-conservative Rep. John Rousselot (R-Calif.) out of office for recruiting a candidate who came close to defeating his brother, John Burton, in the 1980 election. Rousselot was shifted into a Latino district, the Democratic lean of which he couldn’t overcome in the 1982 midterms. Previously California’s delegation had been evenly balanced, with 22 Democrats and 21 Republicans.  The Democrats held 28 seats, while Republicans held 17. This favorable redistricting helped shift the political power of the state to the Democrats, and Republicans have never been able to secure enough power to pay Burton’s ghost back for the 1980 redistricting. Given San Francisco’s sizeable gay community, Burton was an early advocate of federal programs to address the spread of AIDS. His career and life were suddenly cut short by an aneurysm in 1983, but his influence lives on. Indeed, he must be smiling from the great beyond at the results of the 2018 election in California.

References

A Not So Simple Game. (1991, January 13). Time Magazine.

Retrieved from https://www.newsweek.com/not-so-simple-game-202782

Devoe, P.H. (2017, October 7). Gerrymandering Isn’t a Republican Problem. National Review.

Retrieved from https://www.nationalreview.com/2017/10/gerrymandering-dont-blame-republicans/

Frum, D. (2000).  How we got here: The 70’s: The decade that brought you modern life – for better or worse.  New York, NY: Basic Books.

Jacobs, J. (1995). A rage for justice: The passion and politics of Phillip Burton.

Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.

Quinn, T. (2004, October 31). Crazy-Quilt Districts Make Your Vote Pointless. Los Angeles Times.

Retrieved from

http://articles.latimes.com/2004/oct/31/opinion/op-quinn31

The Most Conservative Democrats in History

On Tuesday, the voters sent House Republicans packing, giving Democrats a majority in the chamber. Because a number of traditionally GOP seats had enough voters antagonistic to Donald Trump, there is some speculation about how ideologically these incumbents will be. We probably can expect at least a moderate record, for instance, from former Republican Harley Rouda in the Orange County district he will represent after trouncing Dana Rohrabacher if he has any interest in winning another term. The same likely goes for Lizzie Fletcher of the Houston suburbs and Colin Allred of Dallas, who trounced John Culberson and Pete Sessions. However, none of these people or any of the Democratic newcomers are likely to match my list of most conservative federal Democratic officeholders in history.

  1. James B. Allen (1912-1978)

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A staunch ally of Governor George Wallace and supporter of segregation, James B. Allen of Alabama was elected to the Senate in 1968 to succeed the retiring Lister Hill. Unlike Hill, who had up until the 1960s a history of being a staunch supporter of progressive legislation, Allen had no such past nor such future. Senator Allen quickly proved one of the most able legislators, mastering parliamentary procedure to further conservative causes. As a senator, he was a staunch opponent of the use of busing to achieve desegregation, opposed high federal spending, and was a leader of the opposition forces to the Panama Canal Treaty. He was also strictly ethical, giving up his directorships in numerous corporations upon his election and choosing only to earn his yearly salary as a senator.

Allen proved popular enough among conservatives for him to earn a vote at the 1976 Republican National Convention for Vice President. His life was cut short when he died instantly of a heart attack while on vacation with his wife, Maryon, on June 1, 1978. Whatever you thought of his views, Allen was undoubtedly an extraordinarily competent politician, and unfortunately the same cannot be said for the next person on this list.

  1. Pappy O’Daniel (1890-1969)

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Wilbert Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel was a Texas flour salesman and radio show host before making a foray into politics. His story was one that probably could only happen in America: in 1938 his devoted fans started floating the idea of him running for governor. Although he hadn’t been politically active until then, O’Daniel decided to run with the idea…all the way to victory on a platform of low taxes and a $30-a-month pension for every Texan over 65. He continued to broadcast his show from the governor’s mansion and maintained personal popularity, but proved quite incompetent at governance. Robert Caro, Lyndon Johnson’s historian, wrote of O’Daniel, “Almost totally ignorant of the mechanics of government, O’Daniel proved unwilling to make even a pretense of learning, passing off the most serious problems with a quip…he offered few significant programs in any area, preferring to submit legislation that he knew could not possibly pass and then blame the legislature for not passing it” (Carlson, 2017).  The legislation he promoted was often not passed as it wasn’t realistic…his pension plan, for instance, could not be paid for without a raise in taxes.

In 1940, O’Daniel was elected to another term, but found himself wanting to go elsewhere. This opportunity came in 1941: aging progressive Senator Morris Sheppard died at 75. O’Daniel needed an interim senator who was popular yet wouldn’t compete with him for the Senate seat. The answer? Andrew Jackson Houston. Houston was the senile 87-year old son of Texas hero Sam Houston who O’Daniel hoped would survive until the election, but it was not to be: he appeared in the Senate only thrice and lived for two months. This was, however, ultimately sufficient for O’Daniel’s purposes, as he won the special election as well as the general election for the Senate seat. As a senator, he quickly drifted into the conservative wing of the Senate Democrats, and opposed FDR seeking another term. By the end of World War II, his voting record had become practically identical to that of the staunchest non-interventionist conservative Republicans. He also carried absolutely no influence in the Senate and was unable to get his colleagues to take him seriously. In the 80th Congress, O’Daniel managed to earn two zeroes from the liberal lobbying group Americans for Democratic Action, one of only three senators to do so that session. These factors finally taxed his popularity in Texas, and his approval rating was in the single digits. O’Daniel knew he was done and chose not to run for reelection in 1948. In 1958, he changed his mind about political retirement, and tried his hand again at running for governor on an anti-communist and pro-segregation platform, but found himself a hopeless has-been, with one old cowboy remarking upon his introduction, “Pappy O’Daniel? I thought he was dead” (Carlson, 2017). Eleven years later, the cowboy’s belief became a reality. Despite O’Daniel’s shortcomings in governance, he achieved one thing no one else in politics can lay claim to: defeating Lyndon B. Johnson in an election. He is also a partial inspiration for the character of Pappy O’Daniel in the film O’ Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

  1. Rush Dew Holt (1905-1955)

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In 1934, Rush Holt was elected to the Senate at the age of 29, a starry-eyed follower of FDR’s New Deal. He was not seated until his 30th birthday to fit the constitutional requirement for his seating. However, after the 1936 election, Holt had second thoughts about the New Deal and additionally was a staunch opponent of FDR’s foreign policy. He voted against the minimum wage and work relief while opposing the repeal of neutrality legislation.

As a consequence of Holt’s turn, Democratic Party patronage was exclusively funneled to West Virginia’s other senator, Matthew Neely, an Administration loyalist. His stances weren’t popular with the people of his state either. In 1940, he lost the Democratic primary, placing third. In 1942, he was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates and attempted to further his career there. In 1949, realizing he had no future in the Democratic Party, became a Republican and in 1952 he narrowly lost his bid to be governor. Although he was elected once again to the House of Delegates in 1954, Holt was terminally ill and the next year, only 49 years old. His son, Rush D. Holt Jr., served in Congress from New Jersey as a Democrat and did not follow in his father’s ideological footsteps.

  1. John O. Marsh Jr. (1926- )

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Elected to Congress from Virginia’s 7th district in 1962 as a supporter of the Byrd Machine, John Marsh was a staunch conservative. In his eight years in the House he was an unrelenting opponent of the Great Society and civil rights. His antagonism towards civil rights seemed to die down after Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968, as evidenced by his vote to fund the civil rights commission in 1970, the first time he had ever voted to fund the entity. After his time in Congress, Marsh switched his party affiliation to Republican and served as Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Army for the entirety of his presidency. As of this writing, Marsh is still alive at 92.

  1. Strom Thurmond (1902-2003)

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The most famous person on this list, although Strom Thurmond is known as a Republican, he was once a Democrat, and what a conservative Democrat he was! Even absent the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there was a possibility given his staunch conservatism that he would have flipped. As a Democrat, Thurmond was known for his tenure as South Carolina’s governor, his 1948 Dixiecrat campaign for the presidency on a segregationist platform, as well as his record-breaking 24-hour filibuster against the Civil Rights Act of 1957 as a senator. He was also an uncompromising opponent of both JFK’s New Frontier and LBJ’s Great Society, which earned him a lot of praise from conservative politicians, activists, and publications. In 1964, he switched to the Republican Party after the nomination of Barry Goldwater for president. This was both an ideological and a survival move. The Voting Rights Act passed in the following year would have likely found him in a tough renomination battle the next time he was up for reelection. In 1968, Thurmond actively campaigned for Richard Nixon in South Carolina, which was a significant factor in the state voting for Nixon instead of Wallace. This accorded him the highest level of influence he would wield in his political career, and Nixon paid him back by unsuccessfully attempting to pass legislation to apply the Voting Rights Act nationwide, which would reduce some of the pressure on the South.

Ultimately, Thurmond moved along with the times. He hired a black staffer in 1971, voted to extend the Voting Rights Act in 1982, and voted for a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in 1983. Such votes along with providing pork barrel projects to black constituencies and political appointments for key black community leaders helped stave off any serious political challenges. Thurmond remained in office until he retired in 2003, aged 100, and died later that year.

  1. Harry Byrd (1887-1966)

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Although Virginia’s political machine leader, Governor Harry Byrd, initially had some sympathies with the New Deal when he was first elected to the Senate in 1932, he was always at heart a conservative and within two years in the Senate he proved one of the Roosevelt Administration’s most ardent Democratic Senate foes. He opposed work relief legislation, Social Security, various New Deal agencies, and the federal minimum wage. Despite having supported most of FDR’s foreign policy, Byrd opposed the Marshall Plan on spending grounds, an unusual vote even for a conservative Democrat.

Given his record, even in the 1940s he was attracting fans from the conservative wing of the Republican Party, some of whom entertained the idea of him being Secretary of the Treasury in a Republican administration. Byrd himself maintained a “golden silence” on presidential candidates, a compromise between his unbreakable affiliation with the Democratic Party yet his views on most major issues being with the Republican Party. For dissatisfied liberal Democrats in the state, Byrd was unfortunately an institution and politically unbeatable. Though even he tested some of his supporters when he instituted “massive resistance”, a policy against court ordered desegregation that meant the shutdown of public schools so white children could go to private schools.

Although passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 may very well have made him beatable (the law broke his machine’s hold on the state), it was brain cancer that defeated him, forcing his retirement in 1965 and causing his death the following year.

  1. Phil Gramm (1942- )

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Elected to Congress in 1978 as a conservative Democrat from Texas’s 6th district, Phil Gramm is one of the more famous people on this list. In 1981, he crossed the aisle to sponsor President Reagan’s economic program with Rep. Del Latta (R-Ohio), which cut the domestic budget, increased military spending, and mandated tax cuts. This resulted in the majority Democrats kicking him off the House Budget Committee shortly after being reelected. He resigned on January 5, 1983, and ran for the vacant seat as a Republican, easily winning the election the following month. In 1984, he ran for the Senate and won. He went to work in cutting the federal budget with a plan sponsored with Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) and Warren Rudman (R-N.H.), which instituted automatic spending cuts if deficit reduction targets weren’t met. Some of the provisions of this law were ruled unconstitutional, and much of the law was ultimately supplanted by other budget control measures.

In 1996, Gramm ran for the GOP nomination for president, but didn’t gain enough traction. In 1999, he sponsored a law that would become quite famous in the late 2000s economic downturn: the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Banking Act, which had mandated branch banking. This act was a formalization of what in fact was already occurring in practice, as the rules surrounding the Glass-Steagall Banking Act had already been quite weakened. In 2002, he opted to retire from the Senate.

  1. Bob Stump (1927-2003)

Image result for Bob Stump

Elected to Congress in 1976 as a conservative Democrat from Arizona’s 3rd district, this man from the very beginning was rather out of place in his party. Stump regularly voted like a staunchly conservative Republican, but at the time of his election there was still a significant faction of Democrats like him. However, there was one Republican who won him over to the other side of the aisle: Ronald Reagan. Stump had been one of the staunchest Democratic backers of the Reagan economic program, and in 1982 he ran for reelection as a Republican.

As a Republican, Stump would serve on the House Armed Services Committee and eventually become its chair, being a leading advocate for military spending and veterans. He was also on most other issues a naysayer. Stump was easily one of the most conservative Republicans, opposing even the most popular social legislation, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In 2002, Stump, in failing health, chose to retire from Congress and died the following year.

  1. John Rarick (1924-2009)

Image result for John R. Rarick

Elected in 1966 in an anti-Johnson wave, Louisiana’s Rarick toppled a Democratic incumbent in the primary, James Morrison, who was a racial moderate. Not the case for Rarick, a judge who regularly railed against the civil rights movement and integration. In Congress, his record proved staunchly conservative and easily the most in his state’s delegation, which itself had more than its fair share of conservative Democrats. Rarick fought for such causes as restoring the gold standard, requiring a public referendum for war (a cause that ironically found him allied with black radicals), and opposing expansion of the federal government. He regularly associated himself with fringe causes and groups and was a regular speaker at far-right events, such as the New England Rally for God, Family, and Country. Although not a member of the John Birch Society himself, he was a sympathizer. Rarick’s career for all intents and purposes came to an end in 1974 when the Democrats nominated a more liberal talk show host, Jeff LaCaze, to oust him in the primary. Although he ran as the American Independent Party candidate in 1980 for president, his bid attracted little conservative attention. The staunch segregationist Rarick lived long enough to see the election of President Barack Obama in 2008.

  1. Larry McDonald (1935-1983)

Image result for Larry McDonald

There was no doubt in my mind about this choice for most conservative Democrat. While in Congress from Georgia’s 7th district, Larry McDonald voted very much like another politician people from this generation know very well: Ron Paul. He stood for the gold standard, he voted more conservative than almost every other Republican, and Paul praised him as “the most principled man in Congress”. McDonald almost never failed to achieve a 100% score from the American Conservative Union and was so divorced from his party that the Democratic Party in his region issued a statement that he didn’t represent their views. In 1983, McDonald was chosen by the anti-communist John Birch Society’s aging founder, Robert W. Welch, to be its chair. That year he boarded Korean Air Lines Flight 007, on the way to Seoul to attend a celebration of the United States-South Korea Mutual Defense Treaty. This flight would never make it to Seoul, as it flew through Soviet airspace and after being given warning shots the pilots likely didn’t detect, it was shot down by the Soviet fighters, killing all 269 passengers and crew aboard. As it turned out, McDonald had good reason to fear communism, just not quite in the way he thought.

 

References

Carlson, P. (2017, June). Texas radio showman talked his way into the U.S. Senate. HistoryNet.

Retrieved from

http://www.historynet.com/american-schemers-w-lee-pappy-odaniel.htm

“To Suspend the Rules and Pass S. 2455 to Authorize Appropriations for the Civil Rights Commission”. Govtrack.

Retrieved from

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/91-1970/h373

Watson, E.L. (2010, November 9). James Allen. Encyclopedia of Alabama.

Retrieved from

http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-2970

The 2018 Election: Where Does It Stand Historically?

Most of the outcomes of the races of 2018 have been determined, and there has been a Democratic gain of 32 seats in the House so far with them leading in 5 undetermined races, giving them the majority. So far, the Democrats won 21 out of 38 tossups and are on track to win more. The Republicans so far have expanded their majority by three, but the outcome of the Arizona Senate race is still unknown and the Florida Senate race, of which Rick Scott currently has an approximately 12,500 vote lead, will undergo a recount. If both should happen to go in the direction of the Democrats, Republican Senate gains go down to one. The confirmed Democrat gain in the chamber was Rep. Jacky Rosen’s win over Nevada’s Dean Heller. So far, the Democrats have won three of the eight races labeled tossups by RCP. Democrats are keen to call this a wave, but Republicans want to downplay Democratic gains. The gubernatorial races shifted seven states to Democratic chief executives. Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin (fourth time’s a charm against Scott Walker) saw a flip to Democrat, while Alaska flipped from Independent to Republican. Republicans, to their delight, unexpectedly kept Iowa and Ohio in their column. Florida and Georgia are still disputed, but the Republican is ahead in both. Of the 12 races labeled tossup by RCP, Democrats have won five so far.

How does the midterm compare to other elections? For the purposes of my micro-study, the wins of the opposing party go back to 1914, the first midterm in which senators were elected by popular vote. Midterm performance in the House peaked in 1922, when the Democrats won 76 seats from the Republicans but were still unable to win the chamber, as Republicans had won a supermajority in the 1920 election. The worst performance from the opposing party was in 1934, when the GOP lost 9 seats. The best performance from a party in winning Senate seats in a midterm was in 1958, when the Democrats won 12 seats from Republicans, setting the stage for a wave of liberal legislation in the 1960s. The worst performance was again in 1934, when the GOP lost 10 seats. This makes for an average gain of 30 seats in the House and 4 seats in the Senate. By this standard, the Democrats had a slightly better than average midterm election in the House (but their best since the Watergate midterms) and had the second worst midterm performance in the Senate in their party’s history, with their worst being the loss of 4 Senate seats in the 1970 election.

As far as midterms go, this was a mixed bag for Democrats. While they can tout their suburban victories and their slightly better than average historical performance in the House as a backlash against Trump, it is tempered by loss in the Senate that seems at least partly attributable to the antics of the Democrats during the Kavanaugh hearings, antagonizing red state voters to Democratic senators that voted against his nomination. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the only Democrat to vote for Kavanaugh, won reelection by a little more than three points. It is clear that a no vote could have easily ended his career in the blood red state of West Virginia. The Democrats also didn’t win as many gubernatorial races as they were hoping to this year, as they were hoping to gain Florida, Georgia, Iowa, and Ohio. Overall? It was a good, but not a great night for Democrats. The wave was partial, as it swept through the suburbs, but rural red areas largely only grew more so.

From a historical perspective, this race had some historical firsts and landmark events:

Whether Republican Martha McSally or Democrat Kyrsten Sinema wins in Arizona, they will be the state’s first female senator. If Sinema wins, she’ll be the first Democrat to be elected to the Senate from that state in 30 years as well as the first openly bisexual senator.

Colorado’s Democratic Rep. Jared Polis is the first openly gay man to be elected governor of a state.

Connecticut’s Jahana Hayes, elected to the 5th district, is the first black woman to be elected to Congress from the state.

If Rick Scott’s victory in Florida holds on recount, it will be the first time since 1875 that Florida has two Republican senators.

Georgia’s 6th district was won by Democrat Lucy McBath. This district was once represented by Republican Newt Gingrich and the last Democrat to win this district was John Flynt in 1976. McBath is black and the mother of murder victim Jordan Davis while Flynt had staunchly opposed civil rights legislation and signed the Southern Manifesto. Much has changed in 42 years.

Illinois’ 6th district was won by Democrat Sean Casten. This Chicago suburban district was once represented by the man responsible for the Hyde Amendment, Republican Henry Hyde. This area had been represented by Republicans for over 80 years.

Democrats Sharice Davids of Kansas’ 3rd district and Debra Haaland of New Mexico’s 1st district are the first two American Indian women elected to Congress.

Maine is the first state in the nation to have ranked-choice elections.

Massachusetts’ Democrat Ayanna Pressley of the 7th district is the first black woman elected to Congress from the state.

Michigan’s 13th district was won by Democrat Rashida Tlaib. She is one of two of the first Muslim women as well as the first Palestinian-American woman to be elected to Congress.

Minnesota’s 3rd district was won by Democrat Dean Phillips. The last Democrat to win this district was Roy Wier in 1958.

Minnesota’s 5th district was won by Democrat Ilhan Omar. She is the first Somali American to win a seat in Congress as well as one of the first two Muslim women to do so.

Four of Minnesota’s congressional districts flipped parties. Republicans lost reelection in the 2nd and 3rd but won open seats in the 1st and 8th. The last time so many districts flipped was in 1938.

New Jersey is on track to have only one Republican representing the state in the House. The last time the Republican delegation got such a bad drubbing it was reduced to one was in the 1912 election.

Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York’s 14th district, aged 29, is the youngest woman elected to Congress.

The GOP lost South Carolina’s 1st district to Democrat Joe Cunningham. The last Democrat to win the seat was Mendel J. Davis in 1978.

Republican Kristi Noem is South Dakota’s first female governor.

Republican Marsha Blackburn is Tennessee’s first female senator.

Texas’s 7th district was won by Democrat Lizzie Fletcher. This district was once represented by George H.W. Bush and the last time a Democrat won the Houston suburbs that comprise this district was in 1964, which was also the last time Texas sent an all-Democrat House delegation to Congress.

Virginia’s 7th district, which had once been represented by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, was won by Democrat Abigail Spanberger. The last Democrat to win that seat was John O. Marsh (who later served as President Reagan’s Secretary of the Army) in 1968.

Virginia’s 10th district, long a Republican suburban enclave, elected Democrat Jennifer Wexton. The last Democrat to win that seat was Joseph Fisher in 1978.

Democrats Veronica Escobar of the 16th district and Sylvia Garcia of the 29th district were the first Latinas to win election to Congress from Texas.

Present data for the election from https://www.realclearpolitics.com/

 

 

1910: The Most Consequential Midterm in American History

Image result for income tax

If you haven’t already voted, before you go to the polls today Republicans and Democrats wish to remind you that this is the most important election of our lives! David Corn of Mother Jones tells us so. Valerie Jarrett tells us former President Obama thinks it is the most important election in his lifetime. The emphasis on this midterm led me to thinking, what was the most important one in history? I have a solid candidate, and none of us were alive for it: 1910.

In 1910, the United States had in the White House its fattest and last mustachioed president, William Howard Taft. There was much dissatisfaction among the public as he had allied himself with conservative leaders Speaker Joe Cannon and Senator Nelson Aldrich. Aldrich in particular had been responsible for compromising tariff reduction reforms, resulting in a paltry overall cut in tariffs of 5% from the Dingley tariff rates, the highest in American history. A parliamentary revolt earlier in the year that stripped Speaker Cannon of a number of his powers was a bad omen of the upcoming election for the GOP. The Ballinger-Pinchot Affair, which involved the freeing of millions of acres of forest for development, had angered progressives who were interested in conservation.

That November, the GOP lost the House, taking 57 losses and lost 10 seats in the Senate. More significantly, they took epic losses in state legislatures, which actually changed the course of American history. These Democratic state legislatures ratified the 16th and 17th Amendments, permitting the federal income tax and instituting the popular vote for senators. The former in the short run enabled significant reductions in tariff rates combined with a 7% maximum income tax rate with the Underwood tariff law and made Prohibition feasible as there was now less reliance on alcohol taxes for revenue, but in the long run it made a massive expansion of the federal bureaucracy and increased government services possible. The latter reduced the political emphasis on states and enabled challenges to Republican domination of New England. This was apparent in 1916 when Rhode Island elected its first Democratic senator since before the Civil War, and when Massachusetts followed suit in 1918. This midterm also built momentum for the Wilson program, which included the Clayton Anti-Trust Act which imposed rules on competition as well as the creation of the Federal Reserve to control the money supply.

Many of the issues conservatives have with the government can have their origins traced to the consequences of the 1910 midterms. The income tax enabled government developments such as those of the New Deal, reduced the emphasis on states’ rights,  and made the creation of our modern federal government possible.

References

Corn, D. (2018, October). The Most Important Election of Our Lives. Mother Jones.

Retrieved from

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/10/the-most-important-election-of-our-lives-1/

Mitchell, A. (2018, November 5). Valerie Jarrett: President Obama thinks this is the most important election of his lifetime. MSNBC.

Retrieved from

https://www.msnbc.com/andrea-mitchell-reports/watch/valerie-jarrett-president-obama-thinks-this-is-the-most-important-election-of-his-lifetime-1362260547786?v=raila&

A History of RCP Polls, Senate Races

Although my blog is about American history, I’m covering some history that is a bit more recent than most, indeed, most actors involved remain in the present. RealClearPolitics is quite simply the best outlet to find information and political perspectives. Its polling coverage is second to none and I give the website multiple checks a day (I wasn’t paid to write this). With the 2018 midterms on Tuesday, I grew curious to see what was possible on outcomes for the Senate in 2018. For this humble (okay, not too humble, I’m posting it) and amateur study, I am only counting races that RCP has labeled “tossups”, and the reason for this is explained in my findings section. For the raw data on the Senate race outcomes and RCP averages, here’s the data from the past five Senate cycles.

2008

Alaska, Stevens (Inc.) v. Begich – Democrat Gain

Projected: Begich +10.3

Actual: Begich +1.3

Bias: +9 D

Georgia, Chambliss (Inc.) v. Martin, Republican Hold

Projected: Chambliss +3.8

Actual: Chambliss +3

Bias: +0.8 R

Kentucky, McConnell (Inc.) v. Lunsford – Republican Hold

Projected: McConnell +5.7

Actual: McConnell +5.8

Bias: +0.1 D

Minnesota, Coleman (Inc.) v. Franken – Democrat Gain

Projected: Coleman +2.8

Actual (Upset): Franken +0.01

Bias: +2.81 R

New Hampshire, Sununu (Inc.) v. Shaheen, Democrat Gain

Projected: Shaheen +9.6

Actual: Shaheen +6.4

Bias: +3.2 D

North Carolina, Dole (Inc.) v. Hagan – Democrat Gain

Projected: Hagan +4.3

Actual: Hagan +8.5

Bias +4.2 R

Oregon, Smith (Inc.) v. Merkley – Democrat Gain

Projected: Merkley +5.3

Actual: Merkley +3.3

Bias: +2 D

Average Bias: +0.93 D

Upsets: 1

Democrats won 5 of 7 (71%) toss-ups.

2010

California, Boxer (Inc.) v. Fiorina – Democrat Hold

Projected: Boxer +5

Actual: Boxer +9.8

Bias: +4.8 R

Colorado, Bennet (Inc.) v. Buck – Democrat Hold

Projected: Buck +3

Actual (Upset): Bennet +0.9

Bias: +3.9 R

Illinois, Giannoulias v. Kirk – Republican Gain

Projected: Kirk +3.3

Actual: Kirk +1.9

Bias:  +1.4 R

Nevada, Reid (Inc.) v. Angle – Democrat Hold

Projected: Angle +2.7

Actual (Upset): Reid +5.6

Bias: +8.3 R

Pennsylvania, Sestak v. Toomey – Republican Gain

Projected: Toomey +4.5

Actual: Toomey +2

Bias: +2.5 R

Washington, Murray (Inc.) v. Rossi – Democrat Hold

Projected: Murray +0.3

Actual: Murray +3.8

Bias: +3.5 R

West Virginia, Manchin (Inc.) v. Raese – Democrat Hold

Projected: Manchin +4.5

Actual: Manchin +10.1

Bias: +5.6 R

Average Bias: +4.28 R

Democrats won 5 of 7 (71%) of toss-ups.

Upsets: 2

2012

Indiana, Donnelly v. Mourdock – Democrat Gain

Projected: Donnelly +1.5

Actual: Donnelly +5.7

Bias: +4.2 R

Massachusetts, Brown (Inc.) v. Warren – Democrat Gain

Projected: Warren +3

Actual: Warren +7.5

Bias: +4.5 R

Montana, Tester (Inc.) v. Rehberg – Democrat Hold

Projected: Rehberg +0.4

Actual: Tester +3.7

Bias: +4.1 R

Nevada, Heller (Inc.) v. Berkley – Republican Hold

Projected: Heller +4

Actual: Heller +1.2

Bias: +2.8 R

North Dakota, Heitkamp v. Berg – Democrat Hold

Projected: Berg +5.7

Actual: Heitkamp +0.9

Bias: +6.6 R

Virginia, Kaine v. Allen – Democrat Hold

Projected: Kaine +1.8

Actual: Kaine +5.9

Bias: +4.1 R

Wisconsin, Baldwin v. Thompson – Democrat Hold

Projected: Baldwin +2.2

Actual: Baldwin +5.5

Bias: +3.3 R

Average Bias: +4.23 R

Democrats won 6 of 7 (86%) toss-ups.

Upsets: 2

2014

Alaska, Begich (Inc.) v. Sullivan – Republican Gain

Projected: Sullivan +2.4

Actual: Sullivan +2.2

Bias: +0.2 R

Colorado, Udall (Inc.) v. Gardner – Republican Gain

Projected: Gardner +2.5

Actual: Gardner +2.5

Bias: None!

Georgia, Perdue v. Nunn – Republican Hold

Projected: Perdue +3

Actual: Perdue +7.9

Bias: +4.9 D

Iowa, Braley v. Ernst  – Republican Gain

Projected: Ernst +2.3

Actual: Ernst +8.5

Bias: +6.3 D

Kansas, Roberts (Inc.) v. Orman – Republican Hold

Projected: Orman +0.8

Actual (Upset): Roberts +10.8

Bias: +11.6 I

New Hampshire, Shaheen (Inc.) v. Brown – Democrat Hold

Projected: Shaheen +0.8

Actual: Shaheen +3.2

Bias: + 2.4 R

North Carolina, Hagan (Inc.) v. Tillis – Republican Gain

Projected: Hagan +0.7

Actual (Upset): Tillis +1.7

Bias: +2.4 D

Average Bias: -3.23 R

Republicans won 6 of 7 (86%) of toss-ups.

Upsets: 2

2016

Florida, Rubio (Inc.) v. Murphy – Republican Hold

Projected: Rubio +3.7

Actual: Rubio +7.7

Bias: +4 D

Indiana, Young v. Bayh – Republican Hold

Projected: Young +0.7

Actual: Young +9.7

Bias: +9 D

Missouri, Blunt (Inc.) v. Kander – Republican Hold

Projected: Blunt +1.3

Actual: Blunt +2.8

Bias: +1.5 D

Nevada, Cortez Masto v. Heck – Democrat Hold

Projected: Cortez Masto +1.8

Actual: Cortez Masto +2.4

Bias: +0.6 R

New Hampshire, Ayotte (Inc.) v. Hassan – Democrat Gain

Projected: Ayotte +1.5

Actual (Upset): Hassan +0.2

Bias: +1.7 R

North Carolina, Burr (Inc.) v. Ross – Republican Hold

Projected: Burr +2

Actual: Burr +5.7

Bias: +3.7 D

Pennsylvania, Toomey (Inc.) v. McGinty – Republican Hold

Projected: McGinty +2

Actual (Upset): Toomey +1.6

Bias: +3.6 D

Wisconsin, Johnson (Inc.) v. Feingold – Republican Hold

Projected: Feingold +2.7

Actual (Upset): Johnson +3.4

Bias: +6.1 D

Average Bias: +3.2 D

Upsets: 3

Republicans won 6 of 8 (75%) of toss-ups.

Now, the 2018 race as it stands as of Saturday:

Arizona – McSally v. Sinema

Projected: Sinema +0.7 (Democrat Gain)

Florida – Nelson (Inc.) v. Scott

Projected: Nelson +1.4 (Democrat Hold)

Indiana – Donnelly (Inc.) v. Braun

Projected: Donnelly +0.8 (Democrat Hold)

Missouri – McCaskill (Inc.) v. Hawley

Projected: Tie

Montana – Tester (Inc.) v. Rosendale

Projected: Tester +4.2 (Democrat Hold)

Nevada – Heller (Inc.) v. Rosen

Projected: Heller +1 (Republican Hold)

Based on the information I have accumulated, several findings:

  1. There hasn’t been a Senate race that has been labeled Lean Dem or Lean GOP by RCP that has gone to the other party in the past ten years, which is why I am not including those races here. The closest this came to happening was in 2014, when Republican Ed Gillespie came within a point of defeating Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner. For Republicans, this means Michigan’s John James and New Jersey’s Bob Hugin will stay in their states. For Democrats, it means your dreams of Beto will merely be so.
  2. The worst polling average error in Senate races was in the case of the 2014 Kansas Senate race. The polling averages indicated that Independent Greg Orman would win by 0.8 points. The outcome was incumbent Republican Pat Roberts won by 10.8 points.
  3. The polling for tossup Senate races was biased to the GOP on average in 2010 (4.28%) and in 2012 (4.23%). However, the average polling bias shifted to the Democrats in the 2014 (3.23%) and 2016 (3.2%) elections.
  4. Neither party has ever lost all races RCP labeled “toss ups” in a Senate election cycle.
  5. The highest RCP average a candidate for the Senate had while still losing was Rick Berg in North Dakota, he was on average 5.7 points ahead.
  6. Only the 2014 Colorado Senate race’s average RCP polling matched the actual outcome: Cory Gardner winning by 2.5%.
  7. Since 2010, there have been at least two upsets per cycle, defined by me as the result being different from polling averages.

And now…predictions!

  1. Neither party will win all toss-ups.
  2. The GOP will win a minimum of 1-2 of these races.
  3. Jon Tester will win reelection, despite Trump’s visit to Montana to boost Rosendale.
  4. Democrats Nelson, Donnelly, and McCaskill were blessed to have deeply flawed GOP candidates running against them in 2012. None of them have that benefit this year. Expect at least one of them to lose this year, and if the GOP has a surprisingly good midterm, all three are in the cards.
  5. There will be a minimum of 2 upsets in this election cycle.

References

Battle for the Senate 2008. RealClearPolitics.

Retrieved from https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2008/senate/2008_elections_senate_map.html

Battle for the Senate 2010. RealClearPolitics.

Retrieved from https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2010/senate/2010_elections_senate_map.html

Battle for the Senate 2012. RealClearPolitics.

Retrieved from https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/senate/2012_elections_senate_map.html

Battle for the Senate 2014. RealClearPolitics.

Retrieved from https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2014/senate/2014_elections_senate_map.html

Battle for the Senate 2016. RealClearPolitics.

Retrieved from https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/senate/2016_elections_senate_map.html