Brits are famously uncomprehending about America's political system, but that is not what is wrong with an essay by William Oddie at the UK's Catholic Herald, entitled, "Now we have a Catholic Speaker of the House who actually believes what the Church teaches." The odious Mr. Oddie misunderstands the faith, not the politics, in his little piece of propaganda.
In most recent elections, precise gerrymandering has made most House races non-competitive. And, it is still odd to my ears that we were all surprised that so many House races were "in play" this year when it was about 91 that were in play, out of 435. The Founders, of course, required House elections every two years so that the lower chamber would be close to popular sentiment. But, because of re-districting, the reflection of popular will has come more often in Senate races, where you can't re-district, than in House races.
Tuesday, the system worked as intended. The popular will created a wave the swept the Democrats out of control of the House but the Senate races were much more stable. Indeed, the word "Senate" is dervied from the Latin for "old man" and certainly, candidates like Sharron Angle and Linda McMahon and Christine O'Donnell and Ken Buck seemed to lack the wisdom such a designation implies. The "old men" like Harry Reid, Dick Blumenthal, Chris Coons and Michael Bennet prevailed, and it appears that Patti Murray, who is neither very old nor a man, will also be returning to Washington.
Hate to brag, but over a month ago, I wrote about how Hispanics in Nevada, many motivated by down-ballot races for the state legislature, were likely to carry Sen. Harry Reid across the finish line. Well, so it came to pass, Ben Smith reports at Politico. Reid got a whopping 90& of the Hispanic vote in his race against Sharron Angle. In California, Carly Fiorina garnered a mere 28% of the Hispanic vote, despite the efforts of conservavtive Catholics groups like the American Principles Project to get Latinos to "Votas Tus Valores," as their bus tour said. Professor Robert George, who runs the APP, may need a primer in basic electoral politics: People "value" not having their family members deported more than they value the Gold Standard.
You could hear the depression in President Obama’s voice yesterday as he appeared alternately contrite and defensive at a press conference. It is far from clear that he is not still of a mind to think that if he had just done a better job explaining his policies, the election result would have been different. I do think the White House should have done a better job explaining its policies, but all the explaining in the world does not obscure the fact that the White House and Congress spent too much time on health care and other issues when the American people wanted them focused on the economy. Why did the White House and Congress spend so much time on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year? To make sure they get the 3 percent of the electorate that is gay? The policy is obnoxious, to be sure, and it should be repealed, but it was clear by the first of the year that whenever the President opened his mouth, if he was not talking about jobs, he was talking about the wrong thing. The same goes for Obama’s speech to the nation when combat troops left Iraq: Why give your first Oval Office address on something other than the economy?
Congressman Tom Perriello, a one-time Catholic missionary and human rights activist, lost his bid for re-election in Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District. Republican Robert Hurt took 51% of the vote in the sprawling Virginia district to Perriello’s 47%. Perriello was the only member of Congress to have the President come to his district to campaign for him, but the election-eve rally in Charlottesville was not enough to generate Democratic enthusiasm at the polls.
In fact, Perriello did worse this year in Albemarle County than he did in 2008, polling 57% to Hurt’s 42%. In 2008, Perriello won the county with 63%. In Charlottesville City itself, Perriello won 80% of the vote but the turnout was not strong enough, despite the President’s visit, to offset his losses in the more rural parts of the district.
Jonathan Chait at the New Republic has an article about the significant drop-off of young voters between 2008 and 2010. Two years ago, they were making history. This year, they slept in. So much for the "Jon Stewart effect."
At Politico, Jim Kessler and Jon Cowan have an article that charts a way forward for the Democrats after last night's debacle.
As the results sink in, and the reality of potential gridlock, people with actual ideas that have a chance will be in great demand over the next days and weeks.
The election of Tea Party favorites like Rand Paul and Marco Rubio to the Senate holds out the prospect of trouble for the GOP. They may have won big last night, but there is an unresolved civil war within the Republican ranks, between the Tea Party extremists and more moderate elements. Certainly, GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell is aware of the fact that if the Tea Party candidates in Delaware and nevada had not defeated more moderate Republicans in the primaries, he might be the new majority leader next year.
The Democrats, too, must wrestle with last night's results. Yes, they maintained their hold on the Senate, but they need to realize that this result was in large part due to the fact that only 37 seats were up for grabs. If all 100 seats were on the ballot yesterday, the Republicans would undoubtedly be in control of the upper chamber as well.
The Republican wave stretched from the mountains of New Hampshire through the Alleghenies in Pennsylvania, across the Midwest, and throughout the South last night. The Republicans gained control of the House with a sizable majority and fell just short in the Senate. The results were a disaster for the Democrats and for the President. What happened?
According to exit polls, 50 percent of the electorate yesterday said they were “Very worried” about the direction of the economy in the next year and another 36 percent were “Somewhat worried.” This was the central dynamic in the election no doubt: When the economy is in the tank, voters take their frustration out on the party in power.
It is early in the night and it looks like it is going to be a long night.
Here is a link to the county-by-county results in VA-5. Currently, Republican Robert Hurt is performing well in Franklin and Pittsylvania Counties, but Perriello improved his numbers in Danville City and most of the vote in Charlottesville and Albemarle have not come through yet.
Keeping an eye on the race in Kentucky's 6th congressional district where Ben Chandler is holding on to a slim lead. Also, keep an eye on the South Bend-based district where Joe Donnelly has just overtaken Jackie Walorski after trailing all night.
As always, unless you know which precincts are reporting, raw data is not very helpful. But, these races are all close, as they were expected to be.