Looking ahead to 2012

WASHINGTON – NOVEMBER 02: Republican Governors Association Chairman and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour prepares to take the stage at the Republican National Congressional Committee’s midterm election results watch party at the Grand Hyatt hotel November 2, 2010 in Washington, DC. Major news organizations have said that the Republicans will win enough seats to take control of the House of Representatives. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) (Chip Somodevilla)

Midterm election results are an unreliable predictor of a party’s prospects in the next presidential contest. Bill Clinton, for instance, regained his footing after his party’s setbacks in 1994 and was easily reelected in 1996. Ronald Reagan enjoyed the same kind of revival after the 1982 midterms.

On the other hand, only two years after Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson was elected in a 1964 landslide, his party’s fortunes turned sharply in the midterm of 1966. He ultimately decided not to run for reelection in 1968.

The prospect of beating Obama is not the only thing that has more Republicans – including some long shots – looking at a run for president.

Washington Post