It’s just past 9:30 PM here on the east coast, and both NBC and Fox are calling the House of Representatives for the Republicans. Polls are still open on the west coast, and hundreds of races have yet to be decided, but the counts which are in, combined with exit polling, have been enough for two networks to call it. Predicting the House for the GOP isn’t a reach, however. All indications for months have pointed to a GOP takeover of the House as a foregone conclusion. No surprises from the exit polling like in 2004.
Christine O’Donnell just gave her concession speech, as well. Quite frankly, she has been a joke of a candidate. From the day she won her spot on the Republican ticket, she had no chance. Not only was she too far out of the mainstream to win a statewide race, especially in a moderate state like Delaware, she was also clearly unqualified to hold public office. She was never going to win, but her extreme views made her among the most covered candidates on cable news. In that, she played a valuable role for the GOP in defeat. She took up far too much airtime in relation to her chances of victory. She became something for liberals and progressives to loathe, and her downward spiral followed by defeat has served as salve to relieve the pain from an otherwise dreadful night for the Democratic Party. She was a distraction from other GOP candidates that would have been more vulnerable had they received the coverage she did. But, everybody loves a punch line.
Showed up a little late to the party this evening. While I was missing, many races came in. One was the race for New York governor. Andrew Cuomo soundly defeated Carl Paladino. As of now, the tally stands at Cuomo 71%, Paladino 25%. That is a whooping of epic proportions. So much so, and so predictably so, that Paladino ranks as one of the candidates who received far more national media coverage than he deserved, allowing other dubious GOP candidates to hide in the shadows, as it were.
MSNBC just called the Massachusetts governor’s race for incumbent Deval Patrick. He looks to be cruising to about a nine point win. That race was supposed to be closer — a good sign for Northeast Democrats.
Rand Paul was called the winner in his Kentucky Senate race early this evening. He’s one of the right-wing ideologues that could have benefited from a bit more extensive coverage. He is so far outside the mainstream that his tenure in the Senate should be marked by little more than blustering rhetoric and frustration. He will be a thorn in the side of Republican leadership and a bastion against compromise. Look for a totally irrelevant Senate term.
John McCain has been reelected to the Senate. No surprise there. What’s interesting about McCain is just how far he has gone from the maverick image he played so well to perfection in 2000, and relied far too much on in 2010. These days, he looks like a sordid combination of bitter old man and heartless opportunist. Yet, he is a politician that it is okay to pity.
In Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal has defeated Linda McMahon. Thank goodness. Her rhetoric was intolerable — nothing more than talking points about big government and high taxes. Her major selling point? She and her husband provide no health coverage for any of the wrestlers in the WWE. That is unconscionable. Those people sacrifice their bodies and decades off of their lives to put money in the McMahon coffers, and they have to find their own health plans. Go ahead, try and fill a room with former professional wrestlers old enough to collect Social Security. That alone disqualified her for a job in the United States Senate.
In Florida, Marco Rubio destroyed Kendrick Meek and Charlie Crist. This one was a lost cause for the Democrats, and no help for the GOP, as he wins the seat that was held by GOP stalwart Mel Martinez. Jim DeMint cruises to reelection in South Carolina. He is looking to be quite the big shot in the next Congress, having been a big booster of the tea party movement in the Republican Party. Make no mistake, even if the Democrats do hold on to the Senate, as expected, DeMint will challenge Mitch McConnell for control of the Republican caucus in the Senate. His cause is part Faustian, part Quixotic, and will be interesting to watch unfold.
MSNBC is quite the watch tonight. Many Republican members of Congress are feeling game tonight, appearing on a channel where they have little chance to get a fair shake, what with a panel consisting of Keith Olberman, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, Chris Matthews, and Eugene Robinson. Wow. Matthews and O’Donnell have been especially precious, repeatedly interrupting their guests while admittedly banging their heads against a GOP brick wall of rhetoric. The highlight of the night so far? Chris Matthews asking Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann if she was under hypnosis. Yay MSNBC.
Meanwhile, Sarah Palin is currently holding court on Fox. Enough said.
Neither of these channels are engaging in news tonight. Fox hasn’t been news in a while, while MSNBC can still claim to be news as long as the GOP insists on relying so heavily on disinformation to maintain power.
Oh, and Palin just insulted Geraldine Ferraro, to her face. She’s got a much bigger set of nuts than I ever will. Something else that is just wonderful? The hosts are referring to Palin as ‘Governor Palin’ when addressing her. That’s more of an honorific than Palin deserves.
In Ohio, John Kasich is leading incumbent governor Ted Strickland. Strickland won office four years ago from a wildly corrupt Republican administration. The amount of fraud that was endemic in the last Republican administration in Ohio was staggering, including a scheme to trade in antique gold coins using state pension funds. Excellent work. Now Strickland is on the way out because Ohio has been just hammered by the recession. Strickland won office at the wrong time, quite frankly. This office was going to switch no matter who was in charge.
Russ Feingold has lost to Ron Johnson in Wisconsin. This is a blow not just to Democrats, but to the Senate as a whole. There is no such thing as a clean politician, especially at the Congressional level, but Feingold was one of the better ones. This race is proof solid that Democrats have lost the middle vote, the wishy-washy independents. Feingold really got smacked, too.
As of a quarter to eleven, the Republican Party has picked up three seats in the Senate. Two key seats, in Connecticut and Delaware, were held by the Democrats, because the GOP nominees were tea party insurgents too far outside of regional beliefs and sensibilities to win. The GOP is already kicking itself for not preventing Linda McMahon and Christine O’Donnell from getting the nominations. This story is not over. Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, Joe Sestak is currently leading Pat Toomey. If Sestak pulls out a win, there is no way the GOP will control the Senate. Like the 2008 presidential campaign, Pennsylvania is the key. A GOP win does not necessarily mean Democratic defeat nationwide, but Democratic victory means the goal line for the GOP is just too far away.
In West Virginia, Joe Manchin has defeated John Raese. Raese had a shot at one point, but Manchin responded effectively by running far to his right. West Virginia is one of those states, like Louisiana, that is strangely a Democratic bastion. In West Virginia, the legacy of union power has kept the Democrats in power. Never underestimate labor in a place as blue collar as West Virginia. Across the country, if the middle class had as effective a voice as organized labor, the political landscape would be vastly different. There would be no such thing as conservatism.
Currently, fivethrityeight.com (now part of the New York Times) has the odds of a GOP takeover of the Senate at just 1.7%. Nate Silver knows his stuff. Take those odds as the word of God.
Because I write slowly, it is now 11 PM, despite beginning this post at 10:45. Polls are now closing on the west coast. The battle between Patti Murray and Dino Rossi in Washington is still too close to call. And in an indication that the night is far from over, Sestak is now trailing Toomey. In the space of one post, things can change.
Ah, Russell and Carlo have finally arrived. It’s been far too serious in the Missile Test control room without them here. There is finally some much-needed levity around here. I haven’t gotten together with them on a night like this since Super Tuesday in 2008.
Carlo split in a rage that night, overcome by stress and malignant emotion. Russell passed out on my bed and it was a nightmare getting him moving. I finally asked Carlo what happened to him that night, why he disappeared so suddenly, with so little warning. He was cagey, but he did admit to waking up to the sun rising over Newtown Creek. Anyone familiar with Queens has an idea of the type of desperate straits Carlo found himself in. He’s lucky to be alive, but he’ll probably still get thyroid cancer before he turns fifty. He’s in the kitchen now mixing himself a Manhattan without any ice. An egregious oversight on my part, but he’ll just have to deal with it.
Russell hasn’t been watching the news at all tonight since he was working, so the results are a bit of a shock. Why? Because the man is, at heart, an ignoramus. I say that in the nicest possible way. He’s smart, educated, but unmotivated and inattentive over the long run. Nights like this bring his real personality to the fore, but without drama, he checks out. I’m reluctant to ask if he even voted today. Thank goodness we live in New York City. We live in one of the places in the United States where margins are generally so large that individual voting doesn’t matter. Carlo can’t vote, but that’s his issue, not ours. Make no mistake, he wants to participate, but he has other things he needs to take care of first if he wants his voice to be heard.
“Who’s that guy?” Russell asks, pointing to the monitor.
“That’s Lawrence O’Donnell.”
“He looks like Lee Hatcher.”
“From Big Love?” I ask.
“He is Lee Hatcher.”
Olbermann just called the governorship of New York one of the more dubious elected offices in the free world. That is far out, man.
Speaking of governorships, the Democrats are getting waxed in the state capitals. As of right now, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee have switched with more on the way. The losses in the upper Midwest are very good for the Republicans. The power of a governor in using state resources to influence elections cannot be underestimated. Obama’s reelection chances have taken a huge hit with all the unfriendly administrations that will take power in states he won in 2008.
One of the things that is most disturbing about the Republican victories is their attack on government good. The government is taking the brunt of the blame for the recession. While they did play a role, it was one of abrogation. The responsibility lies with Wall Street. They were the cause. Washington were enablers. Not only that, the Democrats were tasked after 2008 with cleaning up the mess, and while they did not reverse the recession, they did keep it from being worse than it was. The idea that the government has too large a role in national affairs right now is ridiculous. They have too little of a role. Many of the GOP candidates that have won tonight have vowed to reduce government spending. Right now, the only reliable sector of spending is public spending. If the government finds its purse strings drawn taut by this election, the recession will only sink its claws in once again.
If the private sector is not creating jobs, it is the responsibility of the government to do so. If that means bailing out the auto industry, which worked beyond expectations, then so be it. Watching politicians like Chris Christie kill job creating public works or John Kasich promise to do so is infuriating. There are millions of jobs available out there if only we invest in infrastructure improvement, but the GOP is uninterested in doing that. Conservatism is all too willing to reap the rewards of existing infrastructure, but cannot bring itself to take on the expenses necessary to maintain and improve it. In Christie’s case, he has a legitimate beef with the way the Hudson tunnel project has been financed, but killing the project has deprived the area of an estimated 20,000 jobs, and a critical infrastructure improvement. For shame.
John Boehner is trying in vain to choke back tears as he gives a speech tonight. Incredible. Get that man a smoke, he needs something to even him out.
In California, Barbara Boxer has defeated Carly Fiorina in their senate race. Whitman to follow. Still no word on Proposition 19.
“That’s the weed one, right?” asks Russell as he watches me type over my shoulder.
“Yep. Thinking about moving?”
“Nah, man. Weed laws haven’t stopped me from getting high.”
As far as cannabis legalization is concerned, Missile Test is all for it. The failure of prohibition is so apparent that it is appalling we have continued the policy for so long. Also, it’s a mystery. The amount of legitimate money that could be made with legalization is so vast that it is amazing business hasn’t gotten behind legalization. Of course, conservatism would have none of that. Smoking cannabis is a luxury, something that people can enjoy on their own, something that is personal, and something that people enjoy. So much of conservatism is wrapped up in denying people their small pleasures as a means of control that it is no surprise that the ideology largely opposes legalization. Why Democrats continue to do so is solely out of fear. Appearing to be weak on crime is considered an untenable position in elections. So Democrats, and the Obama administration, reliably oppose legalization, echoing the position of most politicians. In this, though, the politicians, and conventional thought, for that matter, are wrong. The country could only benefit from the repeal of cannabis criminalization followed by regulation.
“Haven’t seen him for awhile.”
That didn’t take long. He lasted only a couple hours on Super Tuesday. I’m surprised he went missing before Nevada was called. Regarding his situation, he has a personal interest in someone like Sharron Angle losing. Speaking of which, she is currently down by eight points to Harry Reid in their senate race. It is beginning to tighten, however.
Daniel Coats has beaten Brad Ellsworth in Indiana, racking up another win in the senate for the GOP. The race in Pennsylvania is very close with 99% of precincts reporting. I’ll be in bed before that one is called, I think. In Illinois, Mark Steven Kirk of the GOP is up on Democrat Alexi Giannoulias. That is Barack Obama’s former seat. Losing that, especially after the public effort the White House made to hold it, would be quite the embarrassment, but such is politics.
The GOP tea party candidates aren’t faring too well tonight. By the current tally, over 30 of the candidates nationwide have won, with over 50 so far going down in defeat. In 2006 and 2008, the Democrats made huge gains by embracing a wider ideological spectrum. This cost them legislatively, but the GOP is learning the opposite lesson. Far right-wing candidates have less appeal than expected, and it looks to be costing them control of the senate.
The A.P. has called the California governor’s race for Jerry Brown. Governor Moonbeam would be on his way back to the executive mansion, if he hadn’t shunned it in his first go-around. Prop 19 has to pass. It just wouldn’t be right for Spaceship Earth to be without a legit stash in the glove box.
Illinois was just called for Kirk.
Karl Rove is now part of the panel on Fox. He is saying the Illinois senate race is a rebuke to President Obama. He’s right. That particular race was about Obama. All are, in fact, but Illinois is a big one, because Obama got involved, and because it was his old seat. Turd Blossom comes off sometimes like a hack, but the man knows his stuff. He got W elected four times, a feat of epic proportions.
Juan Williams is on the panel, as well. He’s had a good couple of weeks. I wish I could get fired and sign a multi-million dollar television deal the same day. Did he deserve to be fired? Maybe not. Did NPR have a right to fire him? Yes, they did. Which is why the story disappeared so quickly.
Toomey wins in Pennsylvania. The New York Times has the tally at 49 to 44 in favor of the Democrats. MSNBC has it 48 to 46, Dems. The Washington Post has it 50 to 45, Dems. Exciting stuff. Right now the only uncalled races are Washington, Nevada, Colorado, and Alaska. Alaska will not be a Democratic win, but Nevada is looking like a Democratic hold.
Carlo is back, right on time. He was next door hanging out with my neighbor, apparently. I’ll probably have to do some repair work tomorrow because of that. He’s thrilled with the lead Harry Reid is holding over Sharron Angle. I don’t speak Spanish, but I know profanity when I hear it, even if it is in a foreign language.
“Do I look Asian, bitch?!”
That was definitely English.
“Hey, Carlo. Jan Brewer won reelection in Arizona.”
Harry Reid has just been called the winner in Nevada.
“Damn straight! Woooooooo!!!”
I’m not as personally invested in Harry Reid as Carlo is. I’ve been disappointed in his reign as Senate Majority Leader. Of course, I didn’t want to see him lose, but when I picture a Senate Majority Leader, I picture Lyndon Johnson, someone who actually got legislation passed. Johnson never dealt with the number of filibusters that Reid did, not by a long shot, but at the same time, Reid never dealt with the filibuster either, only with the threat of a filibuster. Not once did Reid force the GOP to actually stand up and read a cookbook, or recite the phone book into the Congressional record. His reputation as a political fighter is evidenced only by his position as Majority Leader. After he attained that position, whatever fight he had in him seemed to be non-existent.
I hate the way the senate works right now. I hate how often the GOP uses the filibuster, but I hate even more how readily the Democrats cave to the threat, effectively ceding power to the opposition party. The Dems may have controlled Congress for the last four years, but in reality, they didn’t, all because they let the GOP run wild with the filibuster rules. Nothing will change until Harry Reid and the Democratic caucus grows a set and forces the GOP to actually block legislation and halt the business of the senate.
The Republican gain in governorships continues, with a solid swath from Pennsylvania to Iowa now in GOP control. That’s going to be rough for Obama in two years.
John Hoeven has defeated Tracy Potter in North Dakota, a big senate pickup for the GOP. Of course, any senate pickup is big. So far in the House, The New York Times is calling a 55 seat pickup for the GOP so far, the Washington Post, 57.
In Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee, a Republican running as an independent, wins the governorship.
The night is getting late. The House has swung decidedly to the GOP, most governors’ mansions have been picked off as well, but the Democrats have held onto the senate, as long as Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman continue to caucus with the Democrats. I’ve sent Russell and Carlo home unceremoniously, and am getting close to calling it a night.
As for a final thought, this election is a rejection of Democratic policies. There is no doubt about that. The open question is whether or not the voters had a realistic grasp of the issues to make a clear decision on candidates this year. This is highly volatile territory. It is very dubious to repudiate a mandate based on the idea of the public’s ignorance, but that does appear to be the deciding factor.
President Obama and the Congress have been attacked for raising taxes. In fact, they have lowered taxes. They have been attacked for bailing out the auto industry, when in fact, if they hadn’t, the unemployment rate would be much higher. They have been attacked for bailing out the banking industry, when in fact it was a necessary evil that was begun during the Bush administration, and most of the banks have paid back the money they were given. They have been attacked for passing socialist healthcare reform, when in fact the bill is a compromise that will ensure the continued existence of private insurance and did not provide for any substantial expansion of government-provided healthcare.
In fact, most of the woes facing the country today can be traced to the excesses of big business, not government excess. But, the GOP has controlled the message once again, managing to turn lies into truth, and the Democrats’ inability to battle such untruths has left them on the losing end tonight. This country is caught in a gruesome partisan gridlock, and this election has ensured that it will not get better for at least another election cycle. Since the strategies of disinformation have been working so well, there is little reason to think it will stop in the next two years, so we may be seeing a political reality that lasts for a generation or more. Oh, and Prop 19 failed. Have a good night.