Will the Republican wave in 2010 surpass that of 1994? At first glance, it's difficult to see that happening, considering there are a dozen fewer Democrat open seats than in 1994, meaning that even if the GOP picks off every single one of them on November 2nd, it still won't match the 22 open seats they switched to red in 1994. In other words, Republicans have to accomplish the far more difficult task of toppling an incumbent far more frequently than they did 16 years ago to match that 54 seat gain. Not to mention, as has been noted repeatedly, most of these Democrat incumbents have a massive financial advantage over their opponents for the final weeks of the election, not to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars being poured into their races by government employee and teachers unions.
Yet, the advantages of incumbency may not be enough to save many of them. For instance, there are dozens of Democrat incumbents on the ballot this year that survived the GOP landslide of 1994. Let's take a look at how some of them are doing today with the latest polling available vs. their percentage of the popular vote 16 years ago.
Chet Edwards (TX 17) – 59% of the vote in 1994. Latest poll: Bennett, Petts & Normington, internal poll for Edwards, down 42%-46%, 10/4 – 10/5.
Jim Oberstar (MN 8 ) – 66% of the vote in 1994. Latest poll: Public Opinion Strategies, internal poll for Chip Cravaack, up 45%-42%, 10/4.
John Dingell (MI 15) – 59% of the vote in 1994. Latest poll: EPIC/MRA, up 53%-36%, 10/17 – 10/19.
Maurice Hinchey (NY 22) – 49% of the vote in 1994. Latest poll: Magellan, tied 43.2%, 10/19.
Earl Pomeroy (ND AL) – 52% of the vote in 1994. Latest poll: Rasmussen, down 52%-42%, 10/18 – 10/19.
Peter Defazio (OR 4) – 67% of the vote in 1994. Latest poll: Wilson Research Strategies, up 48%-42%, 10/4 – 10/5.
Frank Pallone (NJ 6) – 60% in of the vote in 1994. Latest poll: Monmouth, up 53%-41%, 10/2 – 10/5.
Rick Boucher (Virginia 9) 59% of the vote in 1994. Latest polls: Survey USA, up 51% - 41%, 10/11/ - 10/13; NRCC, tied 44%-44%, 10/18.
It's worth noting that, outside of Chet Edwards, whose district became more Republican in the 2003 redistricting in Texas, redistricting has kept these districts more or less the same since 1994.
There are also some Democrats in very serious danger of losing their seats this year for which no polling is available, evidenced by the fact they are running attack ads naming their Republican opponent and are scrambling for campaign cash, as opposed to donating it to other candidates. These include Barney Frank (MA 4, unopposed in 1994) and Marcy Kaptur (OH 9, 75% in 1994).
There may be other campaigns I am omitting, but the point remains the same: Every single Democrat that survived the Republican landslide of 1994 is in far more danger of losing their seat today than they were back then.