Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Post-election analysis

This is what happened:

This is why it happened:
AMERICANS: “So, the economy is pretty bad and there’s high employment. You think you can do something about that?”
DEMOCRATS AND OBAMA: “We can spend a trillion dollars we don’t have on pork and stuff.”
AMERICANS: “No … that’s not what we want. We’d really like you not to do that.”
DEMOCRATS: “You’re stupid. We’re doing it anyway.”
AMERICANS: “That’s not going to help us get jobs!”
DEMOCRATS: “Sure it will; millions of them … though they may be invisible. You’ll have to trust us they exist. And guess what else we’ll do: We’ll create a giant new government program to take over health care.”
AMERICANS: “That has nothing to do with jobs!”
DEMOCRATS: “We don’t care about that anymore. We really want a giant new health care program. We’re sure you’ll love it.”
AMERICANS: “Don’t pass that bill. You hear me? Absolutely do not pass that bill.”
DEMOCRATS: “Believe me; you’ll love it. It has … well, I don’t know what exactly is in the bill, but we’re sure it’s great.”

DEMOCRATS: “You’re not the boss of me! We’re doing it anyway!”
AMERICANS: “Look what you did! Now the economy is way worse, we’re even deeper in debt, and we have a bunch of new laws we don’t want!”
DEMOCRATS: “You’re racist.”
AMERICANS: “Wha … How is that racist?”
DEMOCRATS: “Now you’re getting violent! Stop being violent and racist, you ignorant hillbillies! And remember to vote Democrat in November.”
Some random thoughts and observations:
  • I'm pleased, but far from overjoyed about the election. The results were good, but nothing to do cartwheels over. For me this election has always been about staunching the bleeding and putting an end to the legislative insanity that has reigned over the past two years. While it's nice to see Republicans in a position to block legislation, it also feels a bit like closing the barn door after the horse has already gotten out.
  • Last I checked, David Harmer is only ahead in CA-11 by 23 votes out of around 170,000 cast!
  • Speaking of California, what is wrong with that state? Retread Jerry Brown returns to Sacramento while Boxer is given yet another term. Proposition 19 failed. And out of the state's 52 House seats, it looks as though only two even have the possibility of the incumbents losing with Republicans narrowly ahead in CA-11 and CA-20. This is, of course, a tribute to just how gerrymandered the state is. Fortunately that may be coming to an end with the passage of Proposition 20 which will hand redistricting power to an independent commission.
  • On a related point, I couldn't help notice that Iowa, which uses a commission rather than politicians in its redistricting process, had about as many competitive elections as the entire state of California. Three of its five districts were decided by margins of 2-5 percent.
  • Lisa Murkowski's win is thoroughly depressing.
  • The pollsters didn't have a great time with the Senate, seeming to overestimate GOP chances in a number of key races. Toomey was projected to win by 4-5 points and only squeaked out a 2 point margin of victory. Ken Buck and Sharon Angle were both up in the polls and Angle has lost while Buck seems to be facing long odds. Fiorina in California was seen by many polls as being within 4-5 of Sen. Boxer and lost by 10.
  • I am guessing that the losses of Joe Miller, Buck and Angle will be presented as a rejection of the Tea Party, but I have my doubts. The fact is, all three were problematic candidates who ran less than mistake-free campaigns such as Buck's seeming equivalence of homosexuality and alcoholism, Angle's backdoor exits to escape the media and extreme social conservatism and Miller's numerous gaffes, including a reference to East Germany as a model for border security and his being forced to release records under court order, likely none of which inspired much confidence in voters. All three were also up against incumbents.
  • Tea Party racists elected two black Republicans to Congress last night -- Tim Scott in South Carolina and Allen West in Florida.
  • Alan Grayson, practitioner of a particularly odious brand of politics, was thoroughly whipped by a 56-38 margin.
  • The statehouses, which are somewhat analogous to a party's farm team, went massively for Republicans. The GOP picked 20 chambers, including both houses in Alabama, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Wisconsin and additional chambers in Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. This is the most power they have had on the state level since the 1920s.
  • I am generally pretty neutral about John Boehner, but I did find his speech last night rather touching. The proof of his leadership will be in the pudding, but he was at least sounding all the right notes.
  • While it would be sure nice to have a Sen. Raese from West Virginia, let's recall that his opponent had a 70 percent approval rating and during his campaign criticized Obamacare and literally shot the cap and trade bill with his rifle in a commercial. But Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Pat Toomey are going to be great additions.
  • As I tweeted yesterday, I think not having control of the Senate is a bit of a blessing. Given that Republicans have little chance of passing legislation in light of President Obama's veto pen, having control of both chambers of Congress gives them none of the upside of power and all of the downside. The rollback of big government will have to wait until 2013. Still, would have been nice to get 49 Senators.
  • After all the talk about how the Citizens United decision would ruin American politics and herald the corporate domination of politics, this election saw a pronounced increase in the number of competitive House races -- which should be considered a good thing -- and the loss of Whitman and Fiorina in California despite spending vast sums from their own fortunes. Worries about the undermining of democracy appear to have been thoroughly misplaced.
  • The South's realignment towards the GOP continues apace, highlighted by the losses of Boucher in VA, Edwards in TX and Gene Taylor in MS among others. Republicans also won a second House seat in WV. Barring any personal scandals on the part of their successors, those districts are likely to remain in the GOP column for a long time to come.
  • This will be the largest GOP majority in the House since 1928.
  • For those who think this was simply all about the economy, recall that in the 1982 mid-terms that Republicans lost zero seats in the Senate, keeping their majority.

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