First, a sad note from last night. We're down by 380-odd votes right now with provisional ballots still remaining, so it's not over yet, but either way I want to congratulate Greer Beaty, candidate for NC House in District 36, on running one hell of a race. Since I began volunteering for the campaign back in April, I have come to know one of the few politicians that simply oozes integrity. Greer is the kind of person who puts getting results ahead of partisan victory - and instead of being turned off by the heavily partisan nature of today's politics, she set about changing it. Greer's dedication inspired the same in her staff and her volunteers, and we wish her all the best. Congratulations, Greer, on putting a heavily Republican district in play. Should the current results hold, here's hoping you run again - and win - in 2008.
My friend John referred to Election Day as "the geek's Christmas." So come, all ye faithful, to my election musings:
Remember how I said that when the dust settled, Republicans would still hold the house, 220-215? Um... oops. Big, massive oops.
Currently, with 11 seats still remaining, Democrats have 228 seats. Even if all the remaining seats break Republican, the Dems will have a fairly safe 21-seat advantage. Even that is unlikely - Dems are up in CT-02, GA-12, and PA-08, and LA-02 will feature a runoff between two Democrats. If those results hold, we're left with a 232-203 split. The Senate is currently at 48-49-2, with only the Virginia race still out (Webb has a small but significant advantage, but it's going to go to recount and it won't be official for a while).
Here's a few half-baked and partially digested commentaries for you to spit out upon tasting:
- The red-blue divide has been proven to be, for the most part, complete crap. Yes, the Northeast became more solidly Democratic, with both NH seats turning along with a few in NY, CT, and PA. But seats also turned in KS, CO, AZ, IN, and here in NC. And Republican incumbent Barbara Cubin got a good run for her money in Wyoming - that race is still too close to call (but leans towards Cubin). Kansas was just as caught up in the Democratic wave as New York. Incidentally, a lot of people in the Democratic Party have been criticizing Howard Dean for his "fifty state strategy" of strengthening state parties in traditionally Republican areas. After tonight - when Dean's strategy forced a turnover in Kansas and forced Republicans to waste money defending seats in Idaho and Wyoming - those people will be shutting up.
- Rudyard Kipling (an ass, perhaps, but a good poet) once wrote about those who "can keep their head when all of those about [them] are losing theirs." So in that vein I offer a giant, if perhaps premature, thank you to Arizona. Why? They became the first state to reject a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage even as seven other states approved such measures. Arizona is something of a libertarian paradise, so it's not that much of a surprise. But maybe this result, along with the endurance of same-sex marriages in Massachussets, the court ruling in New Jersey, and the passage of civil unions in Connecticut last year (the first state to pass civil union/marriage legislation without being prompted to do so by a court), could signal the beginnings of a national realization that gay marriage will not lead to the imminent apocalypse. Arizona may still be caught up in the immigration hysteria, but at least in gay rights, it has joined the leaders.
- Speaking of Arizona and immigration hysteria, let's all pause for a moment and reflect on the fact that J.D. Hayworth will not be joining us next January. Harry Mitchell may not be any better on immigration, but at least he won't be as much of a pain in the ass. Now if only someone would knock off Tom Tancredo...
- Congratulations to former Orleans lead vocalist John Hall, who pulled the out-of-nowhere upset of the night to beat incumbent Republican Sue Kelly in New York's 19th district. Apparently, he is still the one. (Discussion topic: is Hall's victory at all related to his appearance on The Colbert Report?)
- Let us also pause and imagine a Senate without Rick Santorum. Aaaaaahhhhh. Sanity just sent Bob Casey, Jr. a gift basket. Also, thanks to incumbents Bill Nelson and Brad Miller for keeping Congress Katherine Harris- and Vernon Robinson-free.
- Is religious conservatism on the wane again? Sure, same-sex marriage initiatives passed in seven out of eight states. But Santorum went down hard, Harris never had a chance, Marilyn Musgrave got the wits scared out of her, and stem-cell research passed in MO. Here in NC, our chief justice beat back an attempt by her challenger to rile up the religious conservative base - by some thirty percentage points. Religious conservativism has always had periods where it collapsed on itself and retreated for a while. Are people starting to discover other things to worry about?
- Big winner: minimum wages. All the minimum wage ballot propositions passed. Conservative economists will be befuddled when the economies of these states do not undergo immediate collapse.
- We can thank Bill Frist for giving the Democrats an extra House seat. Frist's gambling ban was sponsored by Jim Leach and Bob Goodlatte in the House. Goodlatte never had an opponent, but Leach did. Leach was well ahead for most of the race and his seat wasn't even on most peoples' radars, but he ended up losing to challenger Dave Loebsack. Think backlash from the gambling ban had anything to do with that?
- Other big winner: Joe Lieberman. If Webb holds on in Virginia, Lieberman holds the Senate balance of power in his hands. Harry Reid is sure to give him a cushy chairmanship (Judiciary or Armed Services) in exchange for his caucus vote. The Republicans will probably try to bribe him with similar spoils.
- Also, let's hear it for the first Socialist Senator, Bernie Sanders, and the first Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison.
- Poor Lincoln Chafee. I liked him. Though he did throw the Republican Party under the bus in Lieberman-like fashion toward the end of his campaign. I'm thinking he probably would have jumped ship had he won.
- First casualty of the post-election fallout: Donald Rumsfeld. He ended up getting most of the blame for the failed Iraq strategy that helped lead to this little electoral disaster for the Republicans. I'm somewhat surprised that Bush would fire him, but I guess even he can take a hint.
That's all. Feel free to comment with whatever insights you have on last night's happenings.