Those of us who practice punditry, or who are serious students of politics, are familiar with the term “wave” election. We have just experienced three of these in a row.
In 2006, Democrats and Independents rose up and smacked the majority Republicans in Congress, reducing them to a minority in both houses. In 2008, Democrats and Independents united again to produce a strong wave for President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies on the Hill. So strong was this wave that states like Indiana and Virginia, which had not gone for the Democrats in decades, were swept into the winner’s column.
The 54 percent of the popular vote won by Barack Obama was not as impressive as the 59 percent that backed Ronald Reagan in 1984 or the 61 percent that gave Richard Nixon forty-nine states, but in governing terms it was truly a wave. That’s because it gave the incoming new president an historic opportunity to govern with strong liberal majorities in both houses of Congress.
Now, it’s becoming clear that 2008 was also a “waive” election, our first. That’s because the strong liberal majorities that came in with President Obama swept opposition before them in passing the historic health care takeover in March, 2010. It was the first time in modern history that a Congress ignored public opinion polls that had shown consistently for a year that the American people were opposed to the step they were about to take.