32% and the Wave Election
Clinton's lowest approval rating was 36%, but he floated around mostly in the 40's during the runup to 1994. In 1992, Bush Sr's approval ratings were in the dumps as well. But although Democrats grabbed the presidency, Republicans actually gained seats in the House, while the parties broke even in the Senate. Republicans also picked up control of 2 state legislatures, while Democrats lost control of 5. In other words, 1992, despite Bush Sr's low approval rating, didn't end up as a wave election, even though Democrats picked up the presidency.
Now, I think the wave is already there. Republicans are trying to de-nationalize an already nationalized election. And certainly we should watch what happens in the CA-50 special election as a means to test the strength of the wave. If Democrats can't win in CA-50, it seems unlikely they will take control of the House by any sort of overwhelming margin.
Most analysts list CA-50 as "Leans Republican", the standard name for the "Second Most Vulnerable" category, including Charlie Cook, my default analyst of choice. He lists 15 seats as "Leans Republican": AZ-05, CA-50, CT-04, FL-22, IL-06, IN-02, KY-04, MN-06, NY-24, NC-11, OH-01, OH-15, PA-08, WA-08, WI-08. Cook lists 9 seats in his "Most Vulnerable" seats category, "Tossup". Those seats are AZ-08, CO-07, CT-02, IN-08, IN-09, IA-01, NM-01, OH-18, and PA-06.
If Democrat Francine Busby doesn't win in the CA-50 special election, most analysts would have a hard time saying Democrats could go beyond those 22 seats in November. Democrats need 15 seats to win control of the House, so if they won every seat in November from that list except CA-50, they'd have a 6 seat margin of control of the House. Not very comfortable, really. So here's hoping the wave is strong enough for Democrats to pick CA-50 off June 6th.