Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Rest of the Good News

I gave my general inspirational, rally the troops post immediately below this one. But, while recognizing that yesterday was indeed an excellent night for the Republicans (and it was), let's focus on some of the good news.

* Democrats have likely flipped five governor's mansions: California, Hawaii, Vermont, Connecticut, and Minnesota. Putting Lincoln Chaffee in Rhode Island doesn't bother me none either. And we defended on some tough turf as well -- nobody expected Pat Quinn to be going anywhere but home yesterday, but he pulled through. Maryland wasn't close at the end, but for awhile Robert Ehrlich looked like he was going to make a run of it. And, for those of you who care about "close, but no cigar", look at Florida -- where Alex Sink lost by a mere point, and South Carolina(!), where Vincent Shaheen fell only four points short.

* While the vast majority of House seats that changed hands went blue-to-red, there were three that bucked the trend. Say hello to our newly Democratic districts: the DE-AL, LA-02, and HI-01.

* Democrats genuinely did beat expectations in the Senate. Michael Bennet and Harry Reid weren't supposed to be coming back. But they did, and Reid, especially, basically wrote a textbook on how run a badass campaign when all the fundamentals (including the "does anyone in your state actually like you" fundamental) are against you.

* The craziest of Republican crazies aren't headed to Washington (or at least, not the Senate). Christine O'Donnell was soundly thrashed by Chris Coons. Harry Reid turned back Sharron Angle. Joe Miller looks like he'll fall to Lisa Murkowski in Alaska (and, though she'll caucus with the GOP, I imagine she may fill a positively Lieberman-esque role for the next six years). Ken Buck couldn't overtake Michael Bennet. John Raese went down in West Virginia. And it's no exaggeration to say that in three of those states -- Delaware, Nevada, and Colorado -- the candidate cost them the race. That's three Senate seats in Democratic hands, because Republicans overreached in their primaries.

* Even in the House, there are some bright spots (particularly looking ahead to 2012). More than a few Democratic candidates who were written-off earlier in the evening came back to win their races (Sanford Bishop and Gerry Connelly), and others who hung tough to win re-election in agonizingly close races (Joe Donnelly and Jerry McNerney, for example). Excepting New Hampshire, Democrats continue to hold every single House seat in New England.

* Yesterday's defeat is tomorrow's victory. Plenty of folks who went down in defeat today are folks who I think could do wonders in a rematch -- Tom Perriello in the VA-05, who finished much closer to Robert Hurt than I think many expected, is someone I particularly hope to see again. And there are quite a few districts the GOP won which they better start running for reelection on day one: the MN-08 (I'm still shocked that Oberstar lost, but the iron range has deep Democratic roots), the NC-02, the NH-02, the NV-03, and several scattered around New York, to name a few. And the Democratic ground game in 2012 will be a nightmare for new GOP incumbents in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan.

* Finally, while the House will undoubtedly be its own special brand of nightmare for the next two years (Michelle Bachmann for #4!), I remember the Clinton years, and thus I remember what happens to Republicans when they let their inmates run the asylum based on rabid hatred of the President. The fact of the matter is that their behavior doesn't resonate with the nation's voters. It'll be Sarah Palin writ large. And since the House alone can't accomplish anything, I expect their off-putting rage to increase in direct proportion to their continued impotence.

So, mourn if you have to, but snap out of it quick. Things could have been much worse. Shake it off, get off the dirt, and get back in the game. There's still work to be done.


M.S. said...

Easy for you to say, you don't live in Iowa where we have to contend with bigots throwing fits because they're so damn afraid of the gays.

David Schraub said...

Yeah, I've been planning to write about that. Losing house or senate or govenor's seats is fine -- that's democracy. But kicking out judges because you don't like their rulings -- that's deeply disconcerting.

chingona said...

That is why they're on the ballot.

(I always skip the judges because I have no idea, but that is why on they're on the ballot.)

As with most issues around gay rights, the larger question is whether they should be on the ballot.

M.S. said...

It's pretty deeply depressing right now. $700,000 pouring into this state all because gays are scary? If people had any sense they'd notice these same "concerned" organizations didn't pour money into the state when we were suffering from flood damage (many still are, with lots in cedar rapids sitting vacant).
It's heartbreaking that in the face of that figure everyone's suddenly a legal scholar or political science nut with people saying "but it's about doing what the people want!" straight to mine (and other GLBT persons) face. Right, and "the people" hate queer folk here in Iowa. Thanks for the reminder.
This hasn't happened since the 60s when the current law regarding judicial appointments was implemented. It sucks knowing what folks' priorities are now.
Now I'm going to go drink until I can forget that fact.

N. Friedman said...

I take your post as over-interpreting the events. Reed, among others, proved that a very skilled politician who is extremely unpopular at home can win when the opponent is a complete wack job.

I spoke yesterday with a relative who, along with her family, has been down on her luck. One might expect, given her circumstances, that she would be a Democrat. Listening to her, however, tells you everything you need to know why the Democrats have difficulty connecting with average people.

It is reasonable to ask why a seemingly quintessential target to benefit from the policies of the Democrats would turn against the Democrats. Her answer was telling.

She said that Democrats do not care about average people. One has to wonder what that means, so I inquired. The main thing she spoke about was bloated government paying seemingly unearned pensions and high salaries with her tax money under circumstances where she can hardly afford to pay her own bills, with the result that those she helps support live better than her family lives. Her words: "Why should I, who has little money, make myself even poorer to help other people become richer than me." I have heard this refrain from many similarly situated people over the course of many years, so this is not a lone refrain.

As a lifelong Democrat, I find this all very troubling. The one good thing coming out of this is that, just maybe, the Democrats will start thinking about how to go forward as opposed to using formulas which appear to drive away seeming beneficiaries of liberal policies. Or, in simple terms, the liberal end of the spectrum is devoid of ideas that advance a liberal agenda to benefit the target of that agenda more than it harms that target. Solving that problem would be far more helpful than merely branding political opposition and average people as racist or sexist or the like - i.e., terms which avoid having to listen to and address what people actually are saying.

joe said...

For all the talk of upsets, the Senate turned out pretty much exactly how we'd expect overall (or, technically, Democrats overperformed 538 projections by 0.4 seats). And these tactical problems and missed opportunities plague both parties. Was Giannoulias (sp?) the best candidate for Illinois Senate? I'd say not. Could Democrats actually have removed the prospect of senator Rubio if they made a deal with Charlie Crist? Maybe, maybe not.

N. Friedman said...


How would supporting Republican/independent Charlie Crist have demonstrated the efficacy of liberal or Democratic causes? Think Alaska, Conservative vs. Extreme Conservative.

In any event, the Democrats can make believe that liberal policies are more popular with the public than they now are. I gather that your comments about the Senate result have that in mind. Maybe you are right. However, we have been through this before, back in 1994, so I would not bet on it.

joe said...

I don't think liberal policies are particularly popular. Not to the degree that is needed to overcome gridlock, unfortunately. I don't believe they are so unpopular either, thanks to gridlock. Most elections will hinge on the economy and other factors largely out of anyone's control, and how that impacts independent voters -- base turnout being mostly a matter of how pissed off each side's base feels at the other. So the overriding concern is getting the most liberal (or, if you prefer, least conservative) person possible. In Florida, in 2010, that's not Meek; you can assign a 100% liberal score to a pet candidate but it doesn't matter if you multiply that by a zero chance of winning.

So my approach is get the best deal you can in any given state or district and then capitalize when fate gives a wave election. When the stars align the right way, a big liberal (or conservative) item can get pushed forward, but it'll never be easy. Once in place though, it's tough to dislodge, again thanks to our friend gridlock.

On the Iowa Supreme Court fiasco, I'm unsurprised. It's a midterm with conservatives out in full force, and we may recall it wasn't too long ago that Californians rebelled against their judges solely so they could regain the ability of the state to tie people down to a chair and kill them.