Obama will inherit a Congress with Democratic House and Senate majorities comparable to those enjoyed by President Clinton when the party last controlled both Congress and the White House in 1992. While Democrats are eager to churn out the new president’s legislative programs, they’re also anxious to avoid the electoral wipeout that swept them from power in the 1994 congressional elections.
That’s one reason top leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promise not to lurch to the left and give in to pent-up demands from party liberals.
"The country must be governed from the middle,” Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters Wednesday. "You have to bring people together to reach consensus on solutions that are sustainable and acceptable to the American people.”
Where’s the middle?
One of the complications for Pelosi and Obama is the demise of GOP moderates like Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., who lost his re-election bid.
"Never in modern day history has the Republican Party been more bereft of a center,” said ex-Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa. "So the center has to come from the Democratic Party.”
"I’m not worried about overreaching,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. "I’m worried about being too timid and too cautious, and not stepping up to the plate and doing what we promised we would do.”