All Politics is Local? The 2010 Midterm Elections in Historical Perspective

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Political Science


Claire Haeg


The aim of this thesis is the examine in depth two U.S. House Districts that hve incumbent Democrats in 2010 who won a marginal race (did not earn more than 55% of the total vote in a district that registers close to even on the Cook Partisan Index) against a Republican candidate. Understanding the effects of the Tea Party is essential to understanding Democratic responses and campaign techniques to confront the hostile environment of the 2010 elections. The basic question being addressed is this: in a hostile climate, in this case with very vocal and visible opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act of 2010 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, what campaign strategies were used by vulnerable Democrats to fend off challenges, what effect did the Tea Party have on the midterms, and how were these two related? The case studies suggest that Democrats who explained their votes on health care and the stimulus performed better than those who did not explain their votes. The tough position Democrats were put in by multiple factors in the 2010 elections is noted, as well as how the 2010 midterms were different form midterms in the past.