The aftermath of the 2010 US midterm elections

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Now that the midterms are mostly over, let's summarize how things have changed. Overall I'm not entirely displeased with the results, and there seem to be as many positives as negatives.

First let's begin with the Democrats. The lost their majority in the House, but have retained it in the Senate though with a slimmer margin. This is not necessarily a bad thing for them as it gives them a much clearer message to run on in 2012. This year's message was a little bit complicated, as it involved more nuance than a message should usually have.

The Democrats' message was essentially this: Things are somewhat better than they were before, yes we know times are still hard, but the measures we have enacted take time to go into full effect, and besides Democrats have a larger difference of opinion between themselves so that made it hard to reform health care in the way many of us would like to see it with a public option and everything else but at least it's better than before... in contrast to this, the GOP had an easy message: the deficit is huge, you can trust us now because we're deficit hawks again, and the Democrats haven't fixed everything in two years so it's time to give us another chance.

This means that depending on what happens between now and 2012 they may have an easier time running on a clear message, which would probably be something like "things are better now than they were in 2010 but the GOP keeps getting in the way, vote for us so we can get more things done". This will of course depend a lot on who the presidential nominee for the GOP is.

Finally, a lot of the Democrats that lost their seats were so-called Blue Dogs, which are essentially Democrats that don't really vote as other Democrats do. According to Daily Kos there were a total of 48 of them, and 24 of them lost their seats. So the remaining Democrat House members are certainly more united policywise than before.

Now to individual races:

Rand Paul: it's good to see him win. Though he doesn't come across as half as impressive as his father, he still resembles him somewhat and it will be interesting to see how he works over the next six years now that he doesn't have to do the delicate dance he skillfully enacted in order to first get the nomination, and then get elected. I didn't like the attacks on Bill Clinton though - insinuating that Clinton is untrustworthy because of the incident with Monica Lewinsky but conveniently forgetting Newt Gingrich (he was cheating on his wife at the same time he was going after Clinton) is disingenuous at best. Besides that though Jack Conway was quite blah in comparison and his ads were silly.

Daily Kos also made a huge strategic blunder in focusing on the mostly unwinnable race in Kentucky and forgetting about Russ Feingold, who unfortunately lost tonight. There were diary entries every once in a while to the tune of "hey guys, Russ Feingold who voted against the PATRIOT act might not win re-election" but they paled in comparison to the "let's keep crazy Rand Paul out of the Senate" diaries that one saw there day after day. It is always a wiser move to concentrate on supporting candidates you truly like, rather than supporting candidates who are running against someone you really don't like but are quite blah themselves.

Tea Party: the term Tea Party basically refers to two things: 1) the Ron Paul-style Tea Party that existed since 2007 when he was running for president, and irritating the Republican establishment at the same time, and 2) everyone else that piled on after Obama won and all of a sudden remembered that deficits are bad (but for some reason still support expensive military ventures overseas). The good news is that while Tea Party candidates that resembled the former did quite well, while the others did not. Christine O'Donnell lost big, Joe Miller seems to be losing in Alaska too to Murkowski (who is a write-in candidate), Sharron Angle lost to Harry Reid.

Money: another good item to come from the elections is the fact that money cannot simply buy one a seat. Me Whitman lost big today after spending some $140 million to try to become governor of California. Linda McMahon also put aside up to $50 million on her run and lost. So with that and the loss of the fake Tea Party candidates, it's obvious that one cannot simply throw money around or repeat the word Constitution over and over again and expect to win.

Props 19 and 23: the bad news for California's economy is that Prop 19 did not pass, but the good news is that 23 did. Schwarzenegger was very much against its passage:





However (back to Prop 19), a month ago Schwarzenegger did get marijuana possession in small amounts reduced to an infraction which is better than nothing.

Nate Silver: he's scarily accurate. He liveblogged the results here, and once again most of the results were in line with his predictions. His one complaint was that the results weren't all that interesting - GOP took the House, Dems kept the Senate.

Now let's just hope the GOP doesn't do something ridiculous like an attempted impeach of the president. Or then again, maybe they should and then reap the backlash that comes from wasting the entire country's time.

My ideal political future for the next decade: re-election for Obama in 2012, continued losses for vapid Tea Party candidates but election for conservatives that are actually conservative, then some sort of constitutional amendment in the next six years, and President Schwarzenegger beginning in 2016.

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