Texas Liberal

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1958—A Kick-Ass Midterm Election

As Democrats look for gains in the upcoming election, it will warm liberal and Democratic hearts to remember the kick-ass midterm election of 1958.

Democrats gained 15 Senate seats in 1958. This gave Democrats a 64-34 Senate majority. In the House, Democrats picked up 48 seats for a total of 282.  Two new Democratic senators who would go on to prominence were Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota and Robert Byrd of West Virginia.

One reason for Democratic gains in ’58 was the historic pattern of the party holding the White House suffering substantial losses in the sixth year of power. Dwight Eisenhower was midway through his second term in ’58. Democrats hope this pattern will reassert itself in 2006. 

Another reason was that Democrats claimed President Eisenhower and Republicans had allowed America to fall behind the Soviets in missile technology after the launch of Sputnik in 1957. Democrats do well when seen as credible on defense issues.

Some Southerners were angry about Eisenhower using federal troops to integrate Central High School in Little Rock. (Though the hiatus in growing Southern Republican strength was brief.)

A further GOP problem was that America was in recession in 1957 and ’58 and Republicans were criticized as not caring about the needs of labor. The power of unions was greater in the so-called conservative 50’s than it has been for sometime now.

Let’s work hard to win so that the issues of 2006 coalesce for Democrats in as powerful a way as took place in the great and happy year of 1958.

October 6, 2006 Posted by | Elections, Political History, Politics | Leave a comment