A lot of work and a lot of money and a lot of strategy and a lot of analysis goes into political campaigns. But in the end, especially when it comes to midterm elections, the whole shebang often comes down to one or two issues and a ton of momentum. And so it was this year when elections from small districts to huge cities all sort of came down to one issue: George W Bush.
Disgust over Iraq, concern over corruption and abuses of power and a general “wrong direction” vibe got the political ball rolling and it flattened a whole lot of Republicans on the way to D.C.
The battle for the House was over early yesterday. The battle for the Senate rages on with Virginia still up for grabs. It’s amazing when you consider the series of tight races with national implications that we’ve seen over the past decade or so. Remember when elections used to be decided during the same week as they were held?
What does all this mean? In the short term, that’s unclear. It’s bad news for Bush, of course. Not a great night for Rummy. The pressure to change course in Iraq will be overwhelming. The Dems have to now evolve from anti-Bush to pro-something as the race for 2008 starts to warm up. Did the country shift politically (beyond their disgust with the Bush administration)? That remains to be seen. Key lesson for the Dems to keep in mind. Hubris kills political momentum like nothing else.
Question of the moment: Does Bush get to keep the nickname W?
Conundrum of the Day: Do Dems remember how to cope with a good election night?
Let’s look at the headlines from around the country:
The Dems took the House easily and they may extend their control before all the counting is done. The Senate hangs in the balance. Dem candidates in
Montana and Virginia have slight leads and the party needs wins in both races to take the Senate.
UPDATE: The Dems take Montana.
Rummy Out, Gates In. Even for an old political warrior like Donald Rumsfeld, the pressure was too much (it probably should’ve been too much about 2 years ago). Wouldn’t you love to see him take the 30 minute slot between John Stewart and Colbert?
How long could it take to count the votes in Virginia? Think weeks, not hours. Political junkies rejoice. We’ve got overtime, baby.
get majority of governorships for the first time since the 90s.
Dems enjoyed a similar series of victories in state legislatures.
Exit polls: It was all about Iraq, corruption and Bush.
Biggest winner of the night, the new (and first)
Madame Speaker. We now have a woman Speaker, a woman Secretary of State, and a woman as frontrunner for the Dem nomination for president. Pretty cool. What would you give to be a fly on the wall at this lunch?
Some of the same old GOP strategies to get folks to the polls with hate and fear actually worked. Same sex marriage bans were passed in 7 states (AZ still unclear). Those who turned up at the polls for these issues did not back Republicans in large enough numbers to make a difference.
backs stem cell research (thanks Rush).
South Dakota’s push to ban nearly all abortions falls short (the rest of America’s plan to move forward with 49 states put on hold).
Arnold cruises to an easy victory, and just about the time Californians we’re thinking they might be OK with that, he popped off with the line, “You know I love doing sequels.” How long would it take to get Jesse Ventura his California residency?
One of the biggest ballot battles nationwide was a California alternative energy related oil company tax bill. Clinton was all over it. Gore was all over it. More than $156 million was spent. In the end, the bill was defeated.
Who did they lose? Compared to recent elections, the GOP did poorly among young people, voters with college degrees, and secular voters. Wait, are those people even Americans?
There are still 13 House seats too close to call.
Santorum ousted by significant margin.
Robert Byrd wins his record
ninth straight term in the Senate (I’m not sure if he ran on the “It’s time for a change” platform…)
Bloggers found a new way to quickly support their newsbreaking posts: YouTube.
The biggest demographic story of the day? Young voters showed up in big numbers (key issues were Iraq, abuse of power, and beer bongs).
Dead woman wins election in South Dakota.
CNN Dominates the Election Day Coverage, Hands Down
The battle for the best election day coverage was over early yesterday when the folks at CNN had the courage to give the divorce between Britney and dancer/rapper/sire K-Fed the BREAKING NEWS treatment (take a look).
Startups, some new, some not so new, took to the
Web 2.0 Conference Launchpad including our good buds over at Stikkit: Little Yellow Notes that Think … James Dobson doesn’t have time to counsel Ted Haggard (He’s more into shrooms than meth anyway) … What Borat
gets right and wrong about Kazakhstan (one of things he might be getting wrong is antisemitism. Is that OK?) … My “Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” … Michael Jackson’s thriller comeback … People from the real OC are upset with the portrayal of their community on MTV’s Laguna Beach. But, at this point, is there still a real OC?