Opinion polls and prognosticators alike suggest that Republicans are poised to make a major comeback in this year's midterm elections. The comparison du jour is the 1994 "wave" that swept 54 Democrats in the House of Representatives out of office and the Republicans into power for the first time since 1956. A more accurate comparison, based on a Sunlight Foundation analysis of campaign finance disclosure information, would be the 2006 elections when Democrats won 31 seats and a bare majority in the House.
If incumbents lose at the same rate as they did in 2006 Democrats will lose approximately 30-31 seats this November, according to the Sunlight Foundation analysis. If, however, incumbents lose at the same rate as in 1994 -- which entails numerous other factors that will be revisited in later posts -- Democrats would be in serious trouble, losing between 46 and 51 seats and their majority.
House Democrats are on pace to have more incumbents and incumbent party candidates pass a key threshold in fundraising to help their electoral prospects come November: when incumbents raise more than 70 percent of the contributions in their race, they rarely lose an election, even in wave elections.
We analyzed campaign contributions to incumbents and challengers in 2010, 2006 and 1994, and found that, with less than 100 days to the midterm election, Democrats have only 61 incumbent candidates who have raised less than 70 percent of the total campaign contribution haul in their respective races. This compares to 73 for both the majority Republicans in 2006 and the majority Democrats in 1994, the last two major wave elections.