As the House Democrats try to understand why their expected gains in 2020 turned out to be substantial losses, they should take a minute to reflect on the disastrous results of the midterms of 1994 and 2010—the last midterm elections that followed the inaugurations of new Democratic presidents.
In 1994, I led the House GOP as we won a majority for the first time in 40 years. At the ballot boxes, the American people repudiated the Democrats’ left-wing policies, including tax increases, a huge health care proposal (Hillarycare) and efforts at gun control. Their vote was also a statement against President Bill Clinton, who shifted dramatically to the left as president after he had campaigned as a moderate.
In 1994, Republicans gained 6.4 percent to reach 51.5 percent of the total vote, while the Democrats dropped 5.4 percent to end up with 44.7 percent of the vote. I went from minority whip to Speaker of the House while Democratic speaker Tom Foley was defeated in his race.
While the Republicans had not been reelected as a majority since 1930 (64 years prior) we established a reputation for keeping our word with the Contract with America. Reforming welfare, passing the largest capital gains tax cut in history, reforming the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, overhauling federal communication laws and balancing the budget for four straight years gave House Republicans enough support from the American people to hold the majority for 12 years.
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