I had a bad feeling about yesterday, and it looks like my intuition was right (when folks start trumpeting a victory in a city ordinance measure in Kalmazoo, Michigan, that's a sign the night isn't going your way).
Obviously, the defeat of Maine's gay marriage law, again by a tantalizing close margin, is the biggest blow of the night. The cycle-to-cycle political jockeying -- a governor's seat here or a house seat there -- pales in comparison to a state's decision to strip a contingent of its citizens of equal rights and human dignity. Andrew Sullivan says to keep hope, and I have no doubt that this is a battle we will win in my lifetime. But I can't say it isn't frustrating when we keep falling right at the crest of the hill.
As for the political fallout from yesterday, I think the conventional wisdom pretty much has it. First and foremost, "an economic catastrophe is not a good time to be an incumbent elected official." Second, obviously, this is a good result for Republicans, flipping two governorships, if only because it shows that their brand is no longer entirely poisonous. Third, mediocre candidates lose elections (Deeds), unless their opponents are widely loathed incumbents (Corzine), in which case its a toss-up of which house voters want to see the pox fall harder on. Fourth, Republicans, it turns out, can't run psychopathic right-wingers in districts Obama won and expect to hold House seats.
The net upshot is this: objectively, little has changed -- Republicans netted two governorships, Democrats bagged a new House seat. Subjectively, Republicans are probably emerging from their nadir, but are going to have to grapple with the fallout from the NY-23 "purge the middle" decision which came close enough to working that it probably is going to cause quite a bit of consternation for the party. As for Democrats -- they're a gun shy bunch to begin with anyway, so last night's events probably won't help. But they need to wake up -- they've been sleepwalking this past year, and that just doesn't work in the political game.