Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election potpourri

So the dust has settled a bit, although there are still about ten house races to be called (and most likely to be recounted). If everything holds as appears likely, the Republicans will have lost 29 seats in the House and 6 in the Senate. By now you've read tons of exhaustive commentary on the voting, so I'm not going to be thorough here. I only want to highlight a couple of issues, briefly, and then move onto two more in depth.

Predictions revisited. Hold on, let me get some tissue for this egg on my face. More seriously, I was obviously off having suggested the losses would be 15 and 3 (good thing I do better at picking stocks). Actually, the House is less surprising to me than the Senate. As soon as the first generic exit polls came out (what issue was important to you, when did you make up your mind, etc?) I knew we were in trouble; if I had revised my guess after reading those, I probably would have said we'd lose 25 seats. The Senate was a lot more unexpected; for the record, the three races I had wrong were Virginia, Missouri, and Maryland (the last of which was probably a little bit of wishful thinking on my part).

How to handle losing an election. With all due respect to my friends on the Left, I think there may be something to learn from the Right here. If you spent a good part of the past day talking with, reading, or listening to various conservatives, you didn't hear sour grapes about "stolen" races, taking to the streets, etc. This even though 22 of the Democratic House gains last night were by 2% or less, 18 by fewer than 5000 votes. Not to point out the obvious, but if the vast right wing conspiracy was bent on staying in power no matter what, don't you think we wouldn't let something like that happen? Or maybe that we would change some votes in Montana or Virginia? We lost, and losing has consequences, which we will live with. There will be spirited debates about why more voters didn't agree with us, not about how they really did but those nefarious Democrats disenfranchised them. Of course, there are still idiots who think Bush - despite apparently not fixing the election - is instead building concentration camps and planning on martial law to stop their effect (Hat tip: Hot Air).

A conservative country. Or, more accurately, a moderately conservative country. Most conservative ballot initiatives passed nationwide, and a lot of the newly elected Democrats are much more conservative than the average Democrat in today's Congress (in fact, a number of them could quite easily pass for Republicans). The biggest hits the Republican caucus took were in its moderate ranks, not in its conservative ones. Most of the losses stem from corruption and the war, not a broad to move to the Left. I'm not saying that couldn't happen in the future, only that it didn't happen yesterday.

2008. Non-political junkies don't want to hear this, but people are going to be talking about 2008 in a meaningful way before you're done returning those Christmas presents you don't like. No incumbent President or Vice President running, leaving the race wide open. Both sides of Congress realistically at play (my early feeling being that the House is more vulnerable than the Senate, but more on that another time). It is going to be the mother of all elections, and both sides are going to be bringing their "A game." Brace yourself.

CNN's blogger party. In case you missed it, CNN gathered a bunch of the big bloggers from both sides of the aisle to all blog from the same place in DC. A number of the blogs I read religiously were there. I didn't watch CNN's TV coverage, but from what I read and saw in pictures it didn't seem very conducive to work, and that there were some pretty big tech issues as well. More importantly to me as a "consumer" of their blogs, I think the work really suffered (at least one participant seems to agree). I'm guessing it was very tough to focus there, flip channels, chase down things on the web, etc. Overall, a lot of the stuff that came out of the room last night was, well, kind of superficial and late. I'm not going to pick out any specific examples - after all, I want them all to link to me in the future (*wink*). The participants might have gotten a lot out of the experience (meeting each other, etc.), but they should know that such benefits came at a cost. They can decide for themselves if the trade off was worth it.

There you go, a couple of random thoughts. I want to delve deeper, though, into two other issues because of the election: what's the next step on Iraq, and some comments about the nature of compromise in electoral coalitions. Those each deserve their own post; expect them sometime tomorrow.

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