Sighs of relief around the White House today are heavy. Democratic candidates won enough, and enough of the big, important races, to make it - by any reasonable, objective analysis - a stunning evening for them.
The Democrats actually picked up five seats in the House. Republicans still have control, but their margin is down to 223-2ll with one independent. This is the first time since l934 that the party in the White House has gained seats in a midterm election.
As best your reporter can figure out, it's the first time since James Madison's presidency earlier the last century that an incumbent president in his sixth year has had his party gain House seats.
Republicans had thought they might gain 20 to 40 seats. They also thought they might gain four or five Senate seats. Instead, they had a net gain of none. Their margin is still 55-45.
So the White House is celebrating. And newspapers are filled with speculation these election results may blunt impeachment momentum in the Republican-controlled Congress.
Whoa. Early, way too early, to say That. Republicans so still control both houses of Congress, and they have, by far, the most governors in the nation.
They've been hit a lick. But they are not weak. And many of their most active true-believers are still demanding that President Clinton not finish his term.