Election Post-Mortem

Ken AshfordElection 2006Leave a Comment

Well, my predictions were pretty close.

I predicted a Democratic gain in the House of 24 seats — it’s 28 right now.

In the Senate, I predicted a Dem gain of five seats (meaning that they don’t take the majority).  They have four in the pocket, and have all but "won" in Montana and Virginia.  Those states will probably be subject to a recount, so it’ll be some time before anybody knows if Dems took control of the Senate.

I think the most interesting thing about this election is this: while many offices changed from one party to another, no sitting Democrat lost his/her seat to a Republican.  That includes raises in the House, Senate and governors.  That has NEVER happened before; even in the great Republican victory of 1994, some incumbent Republicans still lost their seats to Democrats. 

What does this mean for Bush?  The New York Times knows:

Everything is different now for President Bush. The era of one-party Republican rule in Washington ended with a crash in yesterday’s midterm elections, putting a proudly unyielding president on notice that the voters want change, especially on the war in Iraq.

Mr. Bush now confronts the first Democratic majority in the House in 12 years and a significantly bigger Democratic caucus in the Senate that were largely elected on the promise to act as a strong check on his administration. Almost any major initiative in his final two years in office will now, like it or not, have to be bipartisan to some degree.

For six years, Mr. Bush has often governed, and almost always campaigned, with his attention focused on his conservative base. But yesterday’s voting showed the limits of those politics, as practiced — and many thought perfected — by Mr. Bush and his chief political adviser, Karl Rove.

Somehow, I don’t think Bush has it in him to act in a bipartisan manner.  He’ll do the tough cowboy swagger, stick to his guns, and essentially ignore the voters’ demand for a new direction.  The LA Times agrees:

White House allies suggest there is little reason to think Bush and the Democrats will work together. Bush has tied himself closely to conservative movement leaders who bitterly disagree with Democrats for their opposition to tax cuts and to privatizing Social Security — two of the administration’s top goals.

"When we want to go up and they want to go down, we want to go right and they want to go left, there’s no compromise," said anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, a close advisor to the White House.

Norquist said the Republicans’ primary goal for the next two years should be making the case for GOP control — not bipartisanship.

Can we stop calling Karl Rove a "genius" now?  This is the biggest defeat for ANY party in any midterm elections.  And he was the GOP "architect".

Chris Bowers bullet points this election:

  • National Sweep. Democrats take the national majority in the House, Senate, Governors, and State Legislatures. The only thing Republicans have left–Bush–still sports a sub-40% approval rating.
  • We won bigger than they ever did. Democrats look set to take the House, and with a larger majority than Republicans ever had during their 1994-2006 "revolution." We also won more Senate campaigns in a single cycle, 23-24, than either party has won since at least 1980.
  • Republicans shut out: No House, Senate, or Governor pickups for Republicans. That breaks every record for futility. No one can ever do worse than they did this year.
  • Geographic shift. This is the first time in 54 years that the party without a southern majority now has the House majority. Power flows to coasts. Tom Schaller utterly vindicated.
  • Progressive Caucus Rising. Make no mistake about it–a member of the Progressive Caucus is now speaker of the House. Further, both Progressive caucus members who ran for Senate won easily, Sanders in Vermont and Brown in Ohio. And now, the Progressive Caucus will control half of all House committees.
  • Blue District Victories. Wave of new conservative Democrats, my ass. Mark down House victories in NH-01, NH-02, NY-24, FL-22, PA-07, PA-08, IA-01, IA-02, CO-07, AZ-08, KY-03, CT-05, CA-11, MN-01, and NY-19. Now someone tell me again how the new wave of Democrats is overwhelmingly conservative with these districts and reps making up the majority of the new class.
  • Republicans beaten at the top of their game. Republicans broke all of their fundraising and voter contact records this year. They had better maps than ever before. They had a better opportunity to pass whatever legislation they liked than every before. And they were still crushed.
  • We are just getting started. This is a big step, and much need vindication for our efforts. But it is still just a step. This is no time to start being risk-averse. We must continue to pursue the strategies that brought us here: silent revolution, fifty-state strategy, small donor explosion, progressive movement, we are all in this together.
  • Lots of recounts and runoffs to go.
  • Also, AmericaBlog points out that Democrats now have a majority in state legislatures too.

    And now, the worst prediction ever, from law "professor" Dean Barnett on 11/4/06:

    Lest you think I’m whistling Dixie, we’re already seeing the results of the Republican efforts. Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported that early voting and absentee ballot results suggest Republicans are indeed voting in greater numbers than in 2004. (Sorry, no link, but you can trust me, right?)


    So what’s it all mean? In the tied races, the Republican will win. In the close races, the Republican will win. It adds up to Republicans running the table in the Senate. That’s right – running the table. Montana, Virginia, Missouri, Tennessee, New Jersey, Rhode Island (whoopee), and Maryland will all send or re-send Republicans to the Senate. But wait, there’s more! Michigan will send Sheriff Michael Bouchard to the Senate. And in Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum is in striking distance.

    In the House, the same holds true. Republican Joe Negron will take Foley’s seat. New Mexico’s Heather Wilson will return to Congress. So, too, will Connecticut’s Chris Shays. We’ll lose a handful of seats for the individual failures of certain Congressmen (hello, Curt Weldon), but we will retain control of the House.

    Okay, I’m officially out on the limb. But I’m comfortable here. The paradigm has shifted. People like Stu Rothenberg are like old generals re-fighting the last war; they’re re-analyzing the last election without realizing that certain key facts on the ground have changed.

    This will all be much more obvious on Wednesday in retrospect than it is today.



    UPDATE:  This morning, Dean Barnett says the Kool-Aid doesn’t taste that bad.

    Runner-up for the stupidest comentary is Michelle Malkin’s article dated today (although she clearly wrote it yesterday or the day before) about how Democrats are planning to "call into question the results of the midterms".  No, I don’t think so, Michelle.  Always three steps behind everybody else, aren’t you?

    INTERESTING:  According to AmericaBlog, some conservatives are saying that conservatives need to move away from the Republican Party.  Sounds like a good idea.  Of course, where does that leave the Republican Party?  Come to think of it, where does that leave conservatives?

    GOOD RESULT IN S. DAKOTA:  They rejected the ban on abortions (which was probably unconstitutional anyway).

    OTHER GOOD ISSUE RESULTS:  Arizona became the first state to reject a gay marriage ban amendment, and the stem cell research issue (which spawned the Michael J. Fox ad) won in Missouri.

    ON EXIT POLLS:  Looks like they’ve got the bugs out.  They were fairly accurate this year.

    ELECTION 2006 FUN FACT:  John Hall, leader of the rock group Orleans, won a stunning upset in his race for Congress in upstate New York, narrowly defeating Republican incumbent Sue Kelly 51%-49%.  Orleans’ hits include "Still The One" and "Dance With Me".