Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Why good - even great - isn't good enough...

Jim Geraghty - "It’s the biggest Republican gain in two generations — and yet, because of a few key races, it feels a little disappointing."

That depends on where you're sitting. I'm thinking that New Hampshire Republicans and Wisconsin Republicans and Pennsylvania Republicans are all pretty happy. But I'm sitting here in Massachusetts this morning, and "disappointed" doesn't even begin to describe how I'm feeling. It may have been the "biggest Republican gain in two generations" but there wasn't a single pleasurable minute for me last night.

Part of this is expectations. We see this every quarter when companies report good results and stocks drop anyway, because the good news was "already baked in" - it was expected and, therefore, not news. Well, I called the Republicans taking back the house a year ago. Essentially, everything good that happened last night was "baked in" as far as I'm concerned. There was not a single upside-surprise reported last night (well, to me, anyway - I'm sure that there were some races that went to Republicans that weren't expected to, but not one that I was following.) One of the key elements of a really enjoyable election night is two or three big races where you hoped, but didn't really expect, to win, and there wasn't a single one yesterday.

Good news?
  • Marco Rubio won, as I expected him to.
  • Ron Johnson beat Russ Feingold, as I expected him to. (This race has given me pleasure over the last month, because I didn't thing Feingold could really be in trouble a month ago, but by last night, it was clearly over.)
  • Kelly Ayotte beat Paul Hodes, as I expected her to.
  • Pat Toomey beat Joe Sestak, as I expected him to.
  • Mark Kirk beat Alexi Giannoulis, as I expected him to.

All of that was baked in. So was a 70+ seat Republican takeover in the house, which they may not have quite reached.

So there's no great result, no "wow, that was fantastic" feeling associated with any particular race. Nothing exhilarating.

On the other hand
  • The voters in Massachusetts saw fit to give Deval Patrick four more years in the Governor's office.
  • The voters in Massachusetts' 4th district saw fit to send Barney Frank back to Washington, and I thought Sean Bielat might beat him.
  • The voters in Massachusetts' 5th district saw fit to send Niki Tsongas back to Washington, and I thought Jon Golnik might beat her.
  • The voters in Massachusetts' 6th district saw fit to send John Tierney back to Washington, and I thought Bill Hudak might beat him.
  • The voters in Massachusetts' 10th district saw fit to send Bill Keating to Washington, and I thought Jeff Perry might beat him.
  • The voters in Massachusetts saw fit to not cut the sales tax.
In fact, all of the incumbent statewide office holders were re-elected. As were all of the incumbent congressmen. And a Democrat won the one open congressional seat. There may have been a national wave, but it missed Massachusetts entirely. The legislature is still overwhelmingly Democratic, the Democratic imcumbents in the state legislature overwhelmingly won, and nothing changed other than a large bucket of cold water poured on the heads of Republicans who had hoped, after Scott Brown's victory in January, that they were making progress.

And moving outside of our borders
  • The voters of Maine sent Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud back to Washington (and, as a native, this has more impact on me than the results in neighboring NH, or anywhere else.)
  • I expected Richard Blumenthal to beat Linda McMahon, but thought it would be closer, and that there was a possibility of an upset.
  • I expected John Raese to beat Joe Manchin.
  • I expected Sharron Angle to beat Harry Reid.
  • I expected Carly Fiorina to beat Barbara Boxer.
Obviously, objectively speaking, it was a great night for the national Republican party. Holding the house gives them the ability to begin to impose some fiscal discipline on the US government, if they're willing to do it. (And if they're not, then the fact that they won is meaningless, and they're in the process of becoming extinct.) And the victories were, in many places, deep. They took over up to 16 different state legislatures, and several governorships, which puts them in excellent position for the upcoming redistricting.

But from my vantage point, the evening wasn't a "little disappointing" - it was a huge disappointment.

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