Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Long Night and Morning for Republicans

It may not have been a tsunami, but it was a big enough wave to wash Democrat’s into power in the House and possibly in the Senate. While our predictions of Democratic House gains were off by at least ten seats, possibly more, the Senate might still end up where we predicted depending on the outcomes in Virginia and Montana.

It was a difficult night for the Republican Party, especially for George Bush. Former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill used to say that “all politics is local.” Well, this election, based on exit polls, was nationalized on issues like the war in Iraq and corruption in Congress. When the early votes started to roll in, Republican House losses in Indiana, Kentucky and Pennsylvania foreshadowed a tough night for the Party of Lincoln. The only question that seemed to remain was how large the Democratic House margin would ultimately be and whether or not the Democrats could steal the Senate as well.

Initially, the Senate looked to be safe for the Republicans. Tennessee was in the books for Bob Corker and George Allen and Jim Talent looked strong in Virginia and Missouri respectively. But, as we’ve seen often before, the late votes that normally trickle in come from the larger cities and it was no different last night. Claire McCaskill won by a comfortable margin in Missouri and Jim Webb has enough of a lead in Virginia that if Allen contests, he’ll be labeled a sore loser.

That left it up to Montana, which until this morning was closer than Virginia but which has just been called for Jon Tester. The Democrats will have control of both Houses of Congress. The historical trend of the House and Senate switching Parties in tandem stays intact, and the last two years of the Bush presidency look to be very different from the first six. Some highlights from last night:

-Joe Lieberman’s triumph has to be sweet for him, especially with his claiming 50% of the popular vote in Connecticut.

-Although he ran a competent race in Maryland, Michael Steele was not able to overcome the huge Democratic advantage in Maryland to defeat Ben Cardin. Both he and Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich lost by large margins.

-Many Republican strategists will be questioning whether George Bush’s last minute visit to Missouri helped or hurt Jim Talent. Although he campaigned in largely friendly areas, Bush’s unpopularity may have been a boost to McCaskill in the final days.

-The Abramoff scandal may have been the final nail in the coffin to Conrad Burns in Montana which may have been the final nail in the coffin to the Republicans in the Senate.

-Rick Santorum went down swinging till the bitter end, yet he gave a very classy concession speech after offering congratulations to winner Bob Casey Jr.

-George Allen is most likely finished as a senator from Virginia and he is definitely finished as a potential presidential candidate in 2008. Jim Webb, while not running a flawless campaign himself, has a chance to be a very significant member of Senate due to his strong military background.

-Republicans lost some high profile members in the House, including Hayworth in Arizona, Pombo in California, Simmons and Johnson in Connecticut, Shaw in Florida, Chocola, Hosttetler and Sodrel in Indiana, Ryun in Kansas, Northup in Kentucky, Gutknecht in Minnesota, Bass in New Hampshire, Sweeney in New York, Taylor in North Carolina and Hart, Weldon, Fitzpatrick and Sherwood in Pennsylvania.

-Democrats will now hold twenty eight Governor seats including the extremely important seat in Ohio.

-Same sex marriage bans passed everywhere they were on the ballot except in Arizona.

-The Missouri amendment to allow stem cell research was approved.

The American voters spoke, and it’s impossible for George Bush and the Republican Party not to have heard.

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