As predicted, the mid-term election of 2006 was one of the most important in recent history. More money has been spent on this election than any other in US history. More independent voters turned out to the polls since 1982. All the elements were present to make a great change in how the next two years will go.
Maybe the biggest change came in the reversal of control in the houses of Congress. While the Senate may still be up in the air, I think Democrats will eventually be in control of both. Early predictions that Americans were tired of the current controlling party was evident with the number of incumbents that lost seats in the House and Senate. In the Senate, a total of 29 incumbents were running for re-election. The swift of power in the Senate was brought about when 5 of these incumbents lost their elections. Normally, the incumbency rate in the United States is estimated to be about 97%. However, the numbers suggest that for the current election, the incumbency rate in the Senate dropped 14 points to 83%.
The House saw a similar result. Many incumbents that lost their seats were Republicans, which explains the swift in power. In total, 403 incumbents ran for re-election to the House. After the results were in, it was seen that 378 of these incumbents kept their seat. An interesting fact goes along with this, however. Of the 378 incumbents that won, 34 were running unopposed. If these 34 are counted as victories, the incumbency rate in the House was at 94%. However, among incumbents that ran against opposition, the incumbency rate was down 12 points to 85%. These results should send a clear message that Americans want change on all levels.
Now that the Democratic party is in control of Congress, the changes Americans want should be addressed. If Democrats expect to keep control after 2008, some things need to be taken care of immediately. There are many issues that Democrats should bring up even if they are vetoed. For one, the environmental issues that Republicans refuse to address, should be brought up. The Kyoto Protocol should be reaffirmed even if Bush refuses to sign it into law. Also, Democrats need to bring up raising the minimum wage, create a bill for universal health care, and even get a bill in motion to reaffirm the Geneva Convention. The point of doing this, is to show what the Democratic Party stands for. If they want to get their nominee for president elected in 2008, he needs to have an agenda. And that agenda needs to have clear differences from the Republican agenda. If it doesn't, the American vote will sink back down into the apathy that it has so briefly risen from this election cycle.