THE TIE IS BROKEN: After weeks of pronouncments that America is caught in a 50/50 political tie that likely won't be broken anytime soon, the Republicans pulled way ahead early in Tuesday's midterm elections and never looked back. With the exception of the Arkansas and New Jersey Senate races and a few selected governorships, the GOP won virtually every contested race, from North Carolina to New Hampshire, and from Florida to Minnesota, re-taking the Senate and widening their lead in the House.
Three of the most liberal states in the union (Minnesota, Massachusetts, and New York), all of which I have lived in, each saw GOP victories for governor last night, and those three states have not elected Democratic governors (respectively) since 1986, 1986, and 1990- that's 11 losses in a row. There's a reason for that: these local Democratic parties simply don't know how to get their shit together- they're so divided and so driven by special interests and identity politics that it's next to impossible for the party to ever unite behind a strong, electable candidate.
It was expected that the economy and corporate scandals would hurt the Republicans, while softness on national security and opposition to tax cuts were expected to hurt the Democrats- but the tie was broken by a simple disparity in the electoral strategies of the two parties- the Democrats at this point in their history have no leadership, and nothing to say- for Bush's entire presidency thus far the Democrats have never acted and only reacted. It's time for Tom Daschle to step down, and Dick Gephardt, and especially the loathsome Democratic National Committee chief Terry McAuliffe. But that might not be so easy- as Andrew Sullivan wrote last night, "when [the Democrats] went looking for new blood, they found Frank Lautenberg and Walter Mondale."
But regardless, the Democrats need not get too discouraged. Bad as Tuesday was for them, 1994's midterm election was ten times worse. But after that the Gingrich Republicans overreached, and two years later President Clinton won re-election in a landslide. Who's to say Bush and his Republican Congress won't go too far, and provoke a backlash that will put John Kerry or John Edwards in the White House?
(sorry but, I don't think there's anything the Republicans could do that would result in an Al Gore presidency...)
FEELING MINNESOTA: I wish that Walter Mondale had not lost the Minnesota Senate election to Norm Coleman, but I'm still too upset about Paul Wellstone's death to get too angry about an election result. I know quite a few people, however, who aren't going to agree with me with me on that point. In fact, let's reprise last week's Wellstone Prediction Contest: who will be first pundit/writer to suggest that Minnesotans have "dishonored Paul Wellstone's memory" by electing Coleman? And who will be the first to take it to the next extreme: "When Norm Coleman/the Republicans won the election, it was like Paul Wellstone was killed all over again?"