If there's anything the last three presidential elections, plus the last three Congressional elections, should have shown America, it's this:
We are in as volatile a political period as that between presidents Grant and McKinley from 1876 to 1896. So, try this thought out. A 2012 election that sees a non-tea party GOP presidential candidate win, while the GOP also takes back the Senate, but Dems win back the House.
Ridiculous? Not at all.
A large part of this all depends on the tea party's degree of being a factor in elections, given that it's now rated as more unfavorable than Muslims or atheists.
With Obama's poll numbers now starting to edge into the upper 30s, unless he has a jobs program that truly creates jobs and fast, and doesn't just try to wrong-foot the Republicans, he's in big trouble next year. If the GOP nominates a non-nutbar candidate (with Dull-Lenty of Minn. out, that leaves Romney and Huntsman right now), Obama loses the election.
The Senate? Democrats have long known that this year stacks up badly against them. Anybody who gives them a 40 percent chance, even, of holding on, is whistling past the graveyard.
The House? Due to bungling and overplaying of hands by Midwestern GOP governors Snyder in Michigan, Walker in Wisconsin and Kasich in Ohio, and how that may play out in House races, the Democrats have a chance to pick up several Midwestern seats. Add in a few others here and there, and I will put Democrats' chances of regaining the House at at least 50 percent. Here, more than in the Senate, beyond running against those three GOP governors, they also will in many cases have specific tea party candidates to run against.
It won't be easy, but I'd say two seats in Michigan, three or even four in Ohio, and at least one in Wisconsin are there. Pennsylvania, outside the three-state area, could be easy picking for a couple of seats at least. Democrats should have more than six seats they now have in Florida; local-based campaigns could do well there.
Besides, the latest Gallup poll shows Dems have a 7-point lead in a generic ballot for Congress.
Given that Democrats need less than 20 seats to regain control of the House, this isn't out of the realm of possible.
Now, what would this mean?
Probably not a lot different than now.
I'll assume the Democrats have at least 41 senators, and that a couple of conservative Democrats who would be "defectors" too often have lost their seats. I'll also make the less warranted assumption that Senate Democrats are finally willing to practice at least a degree of GOP-style filibustering. Combine that with a Democratic House majority and a Romney-type GOP president, and we really will have little change from today in a number of ways. Don't ask, don't tell will stay disappeared. Romney probably will have about the same degree of activity, or inactivity, on DOMA. Big corporations might find Romney moderately more friendly than Obama, but much of their anti-Obama bluster right now is for show, not reality, and they know it. Besides, many of the issues there are to some degree SCOTUS-informed legal issues.
Foreign policy? Again, not much difference. Romney won't re-escalate Afghanistan, will use any excuse possible, just like Obama, to keep some troops in Iraq, and probably will be "venturesome" in Arabia and the Horn of Africa. Again, no difference.