America’s Cycles of Change

The Collapse of the Democratic Party across the US Heartland

Tue, 24 January 2017

During the eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency, the Democrats lost 1,034 elected seats in both the national Congress and in state legislatures across the United States.

In the 2014 midterm elections, the number of Democrats in the Senate and House of Representatives fell to their lowest levels since the Republican landslide of Herbert Hoover over Al Smith in 1928, before the start of the Great Depression.

It was as if every Democratic political and electoral gain since the beginning of the New Deal had been wiped out.

In 2010 alone, a mere two years into the supposed Obama Millennium, the first black president’s party lost more than 60 seats in the House of Representatives and six seats, or a full 12 percent of the US Senate. They also lost almost 700 seats to the Republicans in state legislatures across the nation.

The significance of that defeat was far greater than was generally realized at the time:

As I note in my book Cycles of Change: The Three Great Cycles of American History & the Coming Crises That Will Lead to the Fourth, the first black US president was elected with a historic majority and mandate to implement a whirlwind of much needed reforms.

Yet within his first two years in power, he had totally squandered that opportunity and did not even realize he had done so.

The decline of the once great Democratic Party during the rest of Obama’s term was unprecedented and awesome in its scale:

In 2009, Democrats were the majority governing party running state administrations across the US. Some 29 of the 50 governors, or 58 percent were Democrats. In 2017, they only hold eight governorships, a paltry 16 percent of the national total.

When it comes to grassroots control of state legislatures – a power essential for controlling the process of drawing the boundaries of congressional districts within states, the Dems still held a comfortable majority in 2009 – 27, or 54 percent of the total.

After two terms of Obama and a third campaign in which he campaigned passionately for Hillary Clinton that figure has collapsed to a derisory 12 – less than a quarter of the national total.

Edward-Isaac Dovere, writing in the January-February issue of Politico magazine pointed out some even more devastating figures: Democrats, he wrote, “are stuck in the minority in Congress with no end in sight, have only 16 governors left and face 32 state legislatures fully under GOP control.”

Republicans now control the governorship and both chambers of state legislatures – the so-called trifecta – in 25, or a full 50 percent of all US states. Democrats enjoy similar full control in only five states – one fifth as many.