It’s hard to imagine the pandemic hasn’t changed the world, but you’d never know it from predominant Washington political reporting.

It hardened into its present configuration early in the Clinton administration, when Newt Gingrich swept the 1994 midterms and gave Republicans full control of Congress for the first time in 40 years.

Bill Clinton bet his fledgling administration on deficit reduction, and achieved the admirable goal of balancing the budget for the first time since Lyndon Johnson was president, but it failed politically.

Clinton raised taxes on just about everyone, while not providing any significant benefits. The result was a congressional wipeout – 64 lost House seats, and nine in the Senate. GOP dominance began and, while showing cracks, has continued ever since.

During brief periods when Democrats controlled both Congress and the presidency – two years under Clinton, two under Barack Obama, and – so far – two under Joe Biden, they’ve struggled to advance any broad agenda, thanks to massive obstructionism by Republicans.

Even previously bipartisan goals were shredded because it paid off. Maine’s George Mitchell, retiring as Senate majority leader as Gingrich conducted his winning campaign, said it best: “The Republicans had a very clear strategy – to prevent anything from happening . . . and then claim Democrats couldn’t get anything done.”

Republicans, when in full control, are content to do no more than add federal judges and cut income taxes. So when it comes to pressing national needs, Republicans won’t do anything, and Democrats can’t.

Biden learned a lot during his Senate years, and can perhaps avoid his predecessors’ fate. His “Build Back Better” budget bill, still hanging fire, does raise taxes, but only on the rich, and fully pays for what, by contemporary standards, is a dazzling array of new and expanded domestic programs with solid support among voters.

If running on issues, and results, has any meaning, then it’s too soon to count out Biden.

Meanwhile, the haze of Washington reporting continues. Results of two off-off-year governor’s races sent off 2022 alarms everywhere, including nine New York Times analyses. Politico probably set the mystical punditry record by proclaiming – in August – that “Republicans are increasingly favored to win the House.” Not just “favored,” but “increasingly favored.”

Let’s face it: 435 House elections are impossible to call this far out, though the Senate, with just 34, is slightly more predictable.

Here’s what we know: A shift of a few percentage points between parties could produce as many as five “pickups” for Democrats, in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, North Carolina and Florida; three are open seats, as is Missouri.

Republicans, defending more seats, have fewer opportunities, and no Democratic retirements. Two 2020 special election winners, Arizona’s Mark Kelly and Georgia’s Raphael Warnock, had small margins, but voters rarely turn out senators so quickly.

The best chance at a currently Democratic seat is New Hampshire, where national Republicans courted three-term governor Chris Sununu, who won with 65% in 2020.

Democrat Maggie Hassan narrowly defeated Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte in 2016, but Ayotte declined a rematch. On Tuesday, Sununu also demurred, instead seeking a fourth two-year term.

Sununu is more amiable, and moderate, than his father, John Sununu – also governor, then chief of staff to President George H.W. Bush. Bush eventually tired of his hardline advice and cut deals with George Mitchell.

Sununu, just 47, conducts frequent, free-wheeling press conferences – quite a rarity for recent Maine governors – and his style wears well.

The problem, it appears, wasn’t Sununu’s personal popularity, but increasingly radicalized legislative Republicans who pressured him to sign a budget containing a 24-week abortion ban. That may seem moderate compared to Mississippi (15 weeks) and Texas (six weeks), but New Hampshire, like Maine, is strongly pro-choice.

And it isn’t just abortion. Executive Council Republicans rejected federal grants to combat the pandemic, as legislative leaders indulged increasingly loony anti-vaccine theories.

New Hampshire voters, in short, might prefer keeping Sununu home than sending him to join a GOP Senate bloc firmly wedded to the former president; Biden decisively beat Trump in the Granite State.

It’s been a tough fall for Biden. Starting with the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal from and continuing through endless delays in Congress – the budget was due Oct. 1 – he’s in a tough spot.

But the eventual end of the pandemic, an economy that, under the circumstances, is doing remarkably well, and the vital support in “Build Back Better” for struggling families, plus a huge investment in greenhouse gas-fighting technologies, could turn things around.

Finally, the American people might get something closer to what they actually want. One election wouldn’t blow up the Clinton-Gingrich paradigm, but could represent a decisive shift away from the politics of stalemate.

Douglas Rooks, a Maine editor, commentator and reporter since 1984, is the author of three books. His first, “Statesman: George Mitchell and the Art of the Possible,” is now out in paperback. He welcomes comment at [email protected]

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