Bloggers laugh, cry, gloat, and collapse in exhaustion after last night’s midterm election, which put the House of Representatives in Democratic control and will likely do the same to the Senate.
Under New Management: Democrats picked up 27 seats in the House last night, giving them majority control of the chamber for the first time in 12 years. The GOP also lost a few old hands in the Senate, though whether it becomes the opposition party there depends on two close-call states: Virginia and Montana, both of which have Byzantine recount laws that could delay a certain outcome until as late as December, though the AP has called Montana for Democrat challenger John Tester. Nonetheless, donkeys in cyberspace are thrilled. Elephants act as if they knew this was coming and try their best to be stoic.
Conservative Andrew Sullivan, who has excoriated the Bush administration for its handling of the Iraq war, is very pleased by the congressional turnover: “The House of Representatives has now become a key check on an out-of-control executive. It reflects a big shift in the minds and souls of Americans. … The founders knew what they were doing. The country wants to go back to the center, to have a sane, reality-based debate about what to do in Iraq, how to rescue the looming fiscal catastrophe, and how to defeat Islamo-fascism and how to detain and interrogate terror suspects. So we have a re-balancing.”
Liberal Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly’s The Political Animal has a five-point summary on why last night went the way it did. Interspersed between Iraq, Katrina, campaign sleaze, and Republican extremism is the economy, with no stupid attached: “The media is so focused on GDP and gasoline prices as economic bellwethers that I think they’ve badly missed the real story of the past six years: the deteriorating fortunes of the working and middle classes. This is more than just Democratic spin, and in this dismal atmosphere Democrats won a lot of support by holding the line against Social Security privatization, supporting increases in the minimum wage, and fighting for lower prescription drug prices. These aren’t explicitly economic issues as much as they are values issues, and Republicans were on the wrong side.”
Reacting to various media claims that the Democratic representatives elected were more conservative than the Democratic norm, lefty Matt Yglesias argues: “It’s true that a few races have seen culturally conservative Democrats winning conservative districts but beyond Health Shuler there really aren’t very many clear-cut examples of this. The overwhelmingly predominant trend has been for moderate-to-liberal districts in the Northeast and Midwest to dump faux moderate Republicans in favor of fairly orthodox progressive Democrats. It’s regional realignment backlash, not a new Democratic thrust into Dixie.”
Libertarian David Weigel at Reason’s Hit and Run asks, “[W]hy do Senate races break towards the winning party and the House races split? A boring combination of gerrymandering … and voter familiarity. Outside of very small states, most voters never interact with their senators. But congressmen can, and often do, talk to around 1/3 of their constituents every year. The congressmen who lost, by no small coincidence, included blowhards who haven’t paid attention to their districts in years. If J.D. Hayworth had spent a month attending town meetings and answering constituent mail instead of writing an excreble anti-immigration book and guest-hosting for Rush Limbaugh, he’d still be a congressman.”
Conservative Hugh Hewitt is more sanguine than his fellow GOPers: “The long and short of this bad but not horrific night was that majorities must act like majorities. The public cares little for the ‘traditions’ of the Senate or the way the appropriations process used to work. It demands results. Handed a large majority, the GOP frittered it away. The chief fritterer was Senator McCain and his Gang of 14 and Kennedy-McCain immigration bill, supplemented by a last minute throw down that prevented the NSA bill from progressing or the key judicial nominations from receiving a vote. His accomplice in that master stroke was Senator Graham. Together they cost their friend Mike DeWine his seat in the Senate, and all their Republican colleagues their chairmanships. … Amid the ruins of the GOP’s majority there is a clear culprit.”
Righty John Podhoretz at the National Review’s The Corner feels “strangely exhilarated” by his team’s defeat: “I think we’re seeing a major shift in the way things are going to work on Capitol Hill from here on out. … This is the healthiest possible development for our political system. Chairmen will not get too comfortable. Lobbyists won’t quite know whom to suck up to. The treatment of the minority party as a political pariah with no power will begin to alter itself once House leaders in the majority begin to feel they will be back in the minority one day. It could be a new and more fluid era, and that’s all to the good.”
Now that the Senate hinges on two states, D.C. gossip blog Wonkette waves goodbye to its favorite Republicans, Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana and Rep. Katherine Harris of Florida, who was running for the Senate.
Voters endorsed constitutional bans on gay marriage in seven out of eight states that held referendums on the subject. The lefty Tennessee Guerilla Women are sad to see their state among the seven, but “if the much talked about mass exodus out of the state of Tennessee does happen, Arizona looks like a good place to consider. It’s encouraging to have one victory among so many depressing defeats. Arizona defeated the gay marriage ban, but seven states approved it. What is different about people in Arizona? Are they predominantly young?