Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 3, 2010

ELECTION NIGHT, SIXTH AND FINAL THREAD.... I'm getting pretty tired, so let's say this is the last thread for the night.

12:00: AP is calling Pennsylvania's Senate race for Pat Toomey (R).

12:01: Looks like John Kasich (R) held on to win Ohio's gubernatorial race.

12:01: The thing about the Toomey and Kasich victories is that, earlier tonight, they looked surprisingly encouraging for Dems. Even though polls predicted both outcomes, the initial hopes make the defeats a little tougher for Democrats to swallow.

12:04: Not that the outcome was in doubt, but Sen. Daniel Inouye (D) has won re-election in Hawaii.

12:11: While his campaign was initially reluctant to concede, even after news outlets started calling it, Russ Feingold has conceded in Wisconsin.

12:16: Part of me thought the polls were wrong and Illinois voters would do the right thing. Apparently not -- the AP and MSNBC are calling the U.S. Senate race for Mark Kirk (R).

12:20: Keep in mind, while most of these Senate races will elect members who'll begin serving next year, Illinois' Kirk will join much sooner and vote in the lame-duck session. The 59-41 Senate will quickly become the 58-42 Senate before this Congress wraps up its work. Kirk is in a position, then, to screw up all kinds of important measures.

12:23: I guess that debate performance didn't bother voters as much as I'd hoped -- Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) won another term.

12:25: I'm afraid I just can't keep my eyes open, so I'm off until morning. Plenty of questions to keep an eye on for those of you still watching returns come in: Can Harry Reid (D) hang on in Nevada? Can Michael Bennet (D) hang on in Colorado? How about Patty Murray (D) in the state of Washington? Did Florida really elect a criminal to be its governor? When can we expect a result out of Alaska? Will House GOP gains get to 70?

See you in the morning.

Steve Benen 12:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

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Comments

What is the point of voting when facing this tide of stupid? I skipped about a half hour at the gym for nothing.

Posted by: JGH on November 3, 2010 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

People have clearly rejected the post-partisan politics of Obama, ushered in in 2008...

Posted by: Memekiller on November 3, 2010 at 12:11 AM | PERMALINK

MSNBC is calling Kirk in IL.

Posted by: doubtful on November 3, 2010 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

AP calling PA for Toomey. He's speaking now, claiming Sestak has conceded already. Sigh.

Posted by: doubtful on November 3, 2010 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

Giannoulias losing to Kirk by 2.5%. Greens taking 3%.

Posted by: cr on November 3, 2010 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

We lost seats tonight that we probably shouldn't have won in the first place in the Democratic "waves" of 2006 and 2008.

Seats like Alan Grayson's in Florida. Political water seeks its own level and those seats returned to their Red roots. It's how the "game" is played.

BUT, how much was done by those Democrats who were elected and worked the past two years! Dems in Congress passed so many good things for this country. The progressive wing of our party can cry and piss and moan and say, "oh, Obama and the Democratic leaders 'wimped' out and didn't pass as 'progressive' legislation as they could have done".

Well, you know what, they did a great deal of good for the people who voted them into office as well as those who didn't but who will benefit from the reforms made in the past session. Wasn't "progressive" enough for you? Well, then you're as naive as the Tea Baggers who have little to no idea about how politics works on a hands on, practical basis.

All that being said, Obama and the Congressional Dems did a piss-poor job of "managing the message". In fact, they never had control of the message. They should have been out there, everyday, Tim Kaine, Obama, and everyone else, touting their accomplishments. They didn't do it. They lost any help at the ballot box by those who didn't know about all that was accomplished.

Okay, so we mourn our losses tonight and we get back to work tomorrow.

Posted by: phoebes-in-santa fe on November 3, 2010 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

It's depressing to think that Harry Reid winning is pretty much the best news we've had all night.

Now he can go back the Senate and get even less done.

Meg Whitman got 1.2 million votes, and spent what, 140 million dollars of just her own money on the race? Over 116 dollar per vote to lose? Pathetic.

Fuck, I hate rich people and the legions of morans who cater to their whims.

Posted by: doubtful on November 3, 2010 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

Ha, that was only with 28% reporting, so I guess it won't be that bad. I thought that sounded low, but I'm too tired to care. I think that's it for me.

Posted by: doubtful on November 3, 2010 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

See you in the morning.

Thanks for the blogging Steve!

max
['I appreciate it.']

Posted by: max on November 3, 2010 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

please tell me the first order of business tomorrow will be replacing the totally worthless Tim Kaine as DNC chair.

Posted by: zeitgeist on November 3, 2010 at 1:08 AM | PERMALINK

So, what's the major lessons? In no particular order

1) Counter every lie the opposition tells about you. PLUS add a positive note.
2) Go after the opposition first.
3) Gain control of the news cycle
4) Start to demolish the opposition early (remember what the Clinton Campaign against Bob Dole)
5) If the public does not seem to understand what you are doing, explain it... commercial after commercial...
6) attack the opposition first...

7) message for next election cycle: The Republicans are killing the middle class by lax bank regulation, tax cuts for the idle rich, and anti-worker attitudes.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on November 3, 2010 at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK

So, what's the major lessons? In no particular order

1) Counter every lie the opposition tells about you. PLUS add a positive note.
2) Go after the opposition first.
3) Gain control of the news cycle
4) Start to demolish the opposition early (remember what the Clinton Campaign against Bob Dole)
5) If the public does not seem to understand what you are doing, explain it... commercial after commercial...
6) attack the opposition first...

7) message for next election cycle: The Republicans are killing the middle class by lax bank regulation, tax cuts for the idle rich, and anti-worker attitudes.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on November 3, 2010 at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans take the House,,,
The Plot Sickens.

Posted by: cwolf on November 3, 2010 at 1:16 AM | PERMALINK

JGH

what a sacrifice! a half hour at the gym to do the right thing! just remember all those so sacrificed a whole hell of a lot more, including their lives, for that right.

sometimes your side wins on election night, sometimes you side loses. but you can only win if you vote. there's always another election.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on November 3, 2010 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

Phoebes, I've got to disagree with the idea that Obama is to blame for not getting the message out. That was our job. Obama didn't win in 2008 because he was such a great messenger. He won because WE were such good messengers.

But unfortunately, some of our best players decided to sideline themselves for two straight years in order to make a point. And instead of helping Obama spread our message, they attacked him for not doing enough. That was a big difference between 2008 and 2010. Obama lost the diehards, and that was a big part of the message machine.

And at this point, everyone is saying that they were right the whole time. Republicans will insist that we lost because Obama was too liberal. Progressives will insist we lost because Obama wasn't bold enough. Obama supporters will insist we lost because progressives didn't help us get the message out. And basically, everyone's going to keep saying the same shit they've been saying for the last two years. Which is more or less the same shit they said ten years ago. Just like I'm doing now. It doesn't matter who wins or loses. We all think we were right all along.

And that's the stupid thing about all the "messages" we were supposedly sending to Obama and Congress by not supporting them: People will only hear the message they want to hear. Democratic victories in 2006 and 2008 made Republicans want to be more rightwing, while Republican victories will make centrist Dems want to be more rightwing. And now Obama's got to work with an even more aggressive Congress, including a House that can impeach him; making it FAR less likely he'll govern the way liberals would like. Brilliant strategy, guys. It's like trying to run a marathon by punching yourself in the face. You might not win, but you'll get really hurt in the process.

The reality is that sending messages doesn't work. Just vote for the Democrat and hope for the best. No matter how shitty the Democrat is, they're still better than what the Republicans are about to do. Sad, but true.

And most importantly: Voting is one of the LEAST effective means of exercising your political power. If we want better Democrats, we need to start right now. Tonight wasn't as bad as it could have been, and I think that things are well positioned for us to kick mucho ass in two years. But the time to start is now. Power to the people.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on November 3, 2010 at 1:24 AM | PERMALINK

KurtRex, you've got it all wrong. The message from this election is: Fix the Economy.

If we fix the economy, we'll trounce them. These people didn't out-political us. If anything, they had far more screw-ups than we did. The main difference is that they had a side that was stark raving crazy, while much of our side didn't give a damn.

And the economy was the big difference. If unemployment were 5%, it would have been smooth-sailing for us in the more contentious states. We could have fixed our main weakness, while they'd still have Aqua Buddhas and witches. And by the time Rand Paul and the other freshly minted kooks have let everyone know what they're really about, Republicans get squashed in 2012. If...the economy is humming. Otherwise, it's anyone's guess.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on November 3, 2010 at 1:32 AM | PERMALINK

Sad and disappointing, but in the races I voted in, all my candidates won. As for the ballot measures, I voted on eight or nine, and of those, I'd say 6 went my way.

Posted by: g on November 3, 2010 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

2011 - 2012, the ultra grotesque bipartisanship years.

Posted by: merapi meletus on November 3, 2010 at 2:58 AM | PERMALINK

Sad, yes, but basically inevitable. Given the nearly 50 Democratic House seats in districts that went for McCain, Democrats would certainly have lost 30 or more seats even with unemployment at 5%. And really, everything that happened tonight followed from that 10% unemployment rate.

Democrats in the West especially can take some pride in stemming the tide in the statewide races and doing an exemplary job of getting out the vote, especially among the constituents of the future (minorities and younger voters). Democrats can also note that the Blue Dogs were almost completely annihilated as they took the major part of the wave. It would be nice if they learned the obvious lessons here.

Posted by: Ted on November 3, 2010 at 4:04 AM | PERMALINK

Giannoulias losing to Kirk by 2.5%. Greens taking 3%.

Yeah, but the Libs took 2% from Kirk. Don't blame it on the Greens. Rich Whitney got squat in the gov race, and that's what let Quinn win. Both Giannoulias and Kirk were weak candidates. Everyone in Illinois (on both sides) voted for Senator while holding their noses. Lisa Madigan would have walked away with this race.

Posted by: Tim H on November 3, 2010 at 6:13 AM | PERMALINK

When you win an election by outshouting the other side about non-existant death panels and Nazism/Communism, your 'victory' comes with quote marks around the word. Yes, you got more votes but what do you do with the victory? You don't have a mandate to actually do anything.

How many times did the GOP stymie bills in the Senate with threats of fillibustering? Now they control the House, but are they really in all that much better a position? With a House majority they will actually have to make proposals.

What they did do was prevent the GOP from passing into history, which is a shame, but they did it by playing the obstructionist card very, very well.

Dem success in '12 will depend on how well they have learned to play the political theater game--can they out-dramatize the GOP? I have my doubts. They need to call up Hollywood and get some advice on how to out-flash the GOP.

Posted by: Seould on November 3, 2010 at 6:49 AM | PERMALINK

1. Voters respect people who define themselves and stand up for principle. You've heard the saying, "I may not always agree with X, but I know where he stands." They want to know what they're getting with their vote. Endless triangulating and put-downs of your own (fatal faux-paws (sic) like denigrating "the professional left" and all that) just don't look like strength. Democrats often failed to define themselves (both in terms of the image issues and by what they really did) and that looks weak to voters, who could imagine supporting someone they "understood" even if not quite their typical preference.

2. The most important poll results weren't the ones showing various attitudes and preferences, but the polls asking people basic information. When around half the public thinks their taxes went up and that isn't true, good governance is screwed.

3. However: The media didn't report much on substantive accomplishments and stimulus attempts like the HIRE Act (PL 111-147.) They obsessed over flashy slapstick etc. and the dorky slog of actually governing and dealing with real problems is just not game for the slick media clown show.

4. Someone commented earlier (see and response at http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2010_11/026444.php#1846833) that exit polls were showing Dems up 2% general preference, which is opposite from standard polls showing Republicans up that or more in generic. I haven't heard much suspect stuff yet but it's something to keep in mind and peruse blackboxvoting.org etc. Plus there are lots of races with late voting, the count not really in yet and squeakers to keep an eye on.

Posted by: Neil B on November 3, 2010 at 6:53 AM | PERMALINK

The NYT has switched the CO senate race from pink to blue, which if it holds is some more good news.

A lot of good points made so far about messaging. But I would say the key factor, and it's been this way for 30 years is that Republicans try to shape public opinion, while Democrats take public opinion as given and try to adjust to it.

The Repubs and their ideology were deeply unpopular a year ago, but they stuck to it (to the amazement of many, including on this site). But it worked out for them, because when voter discontent turned, there they were with a vigorous ideology that motivated their voters.

Dems, meanwhile, saw their popularity fall and ran for the hills, and away from their record. Even though sticking to their guns, repeating the facts and their achievements and correcting false impressions ad nauseam, would have done a lot to shift public opinion their way (at least at the margin). And would have motivated their own voters. It wouldn't have guaranteed a win, but would have stanched some of the losses. Instead we had pathetic spectacles like Blanche Lincoln, who tried to split the difference and instead got lacerated.

Posted by: Basilisc on November 3, 2010 at 7:08 AM | PERMALINK

fuckity fuck! the US public really is as stupid as it appeared to be in 2000 and 2004. I'm not just talking about republicans or "independents" who voted republicans but also all those MTV, 30-second attention spanned US youths who basically sat on their arses during this election.

Why do I get the feeling that this is the high point of the next two years?

Posted by: homerhk on November 3, 2010 at 7:26 AM | PERMALINK

The "early D, late R" phenomenon in PA is because the cities (Philly and P'burgh) are heavily D and get their results in early.

The center part of PA (the "tucky" in Pennsyltucky) is heavily R and slower to post results.

For a D to win in PA, they need to have high urban turnout, which didn't happen this year.

Posted by: Snarki, child of Loki on November 3, 2010 at 7:49 AM | PERMALINK

Historically, midterms, often, fall to the anti vote. Two years ago, many at liberal sites declared the RepuG Party to be dead in the water. Reminds me of when the Brady Bill passed in '93 and many liberals thought the NRA was dead in the water. The anti-Brady Bill NRA types came back with a vengeance in the '94 elections. The Know Nothing Zanies came back with a vengeance, yesterday. For two years, liberal sites spent much of their thread time on posting stories about the loons and the zanies from the right. Lots of snickers and chuckles, but, those zanies, in an off year, turned out their equally zanie supporters.

Yes, there were many legislative accomplishments over the past two years, but, when unemployment is so very high and 99ers know their jobs are never going to come back, how do they really get jacked up over Acts, many of whom have never heard about? How do they get jacked up over several of those bills being compromised RepuG-Lite bills and bills with the real teeth cut out of them?

Sad to say, but,someday, Obamabots may just be a historical political footnote. So much could have been done. Such a waste of hope and change.

Posted by: berttheclock on November 3, 2010 at 7:51 AM | PERMALINK

I saw a great line in comments at Kos:

"Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber."
That's for all the smart-alecs who "sat this one out" including doddering cowardly jackass George Soros. Now look at what we'll have to put up with. OTOH, the Republicans will have to actually govern, and maybe the rabble will finally learn that they can't.

Posted by: Neil B on November 3, 2010 at 7:57 AM | PERMALINK

The "cr" at 7:15 am is not me. Even I'm not that much of a jerk.

Posted by: cr on November 3, 2010 at 8:11 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, didn't see it... It's not me at 7:52 either. This guy really is an asshole.

Posted by: cr on November 3, 2010 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

Can we please put an asterix * by the words "Did STATE really elect a MISDEMEANOR/FELONY PERP?" when involving a state that uses paperless ballot voting machines?

Never forget Alvin Greene:

http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/HaireoftheDog/archives/2010/06/11/rawl-dominated-absentee-ballots-greene-election-day-votes

In those states we have no recourse to discover which of these seats were a result of a vote flipping algorithm.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on November 3, 2010 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

The results were about what we expected. Republicans now hold the House, but nothing else except the 4 Stooges on the Suypreme Court. The Dems hold the Senate. No small feat. Several shitheads won, and several lost - that was on my own scorecard. I'm an Independent and I split my vote, as usual, in our statewide races. Murkowski was a pleasant surprise, even though she's a Republican because it's a pie in Palin's face, and Palin is nothing but a screeching imbecile. Reid was another pleasant surprise. I like Vegas and I can now return with a clear conscience. Not much will make it's way to Obama's desk for a veto. The crackpots on the right will probably give the debt ceiling a pass this year and then make asses of themselves next year (they just can't help it, which is a good thing). Most of the Dem losses were Blue Dogs in redneck districts. Sestak was a disappointment just north of here, but PA as Carville said, is Alabama separated by two cites. Not a good night for the Tea Party nitwits, and that's encouraging. On the suddenly stupid scale, I give the nation a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best score possible). Hey, it's better then a 3. The sun came up anyway. Have a good day everyone.

Posted by: Bob on November 3, 2010 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

Bob, as you say about areas to the north of Philly, a close friend of ours who is a Progressive called us, yesterday AM, complaining about RepuGs standing very close to the voting site in Wilkes-Barre, as she walked into vote, screaming against any Democratic candidate. She looked for the local cops, but, didn't see any.

Posted by: berttheclock on November 3, 2010 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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