If there one thing to take from any election, it is that everything can change in two years. There are never any absolutes in electoral politics. In the short time that I've been old enough to care about/get politics, I've seen both major parties pronounced dead by pundits. In 2004, it was how marginalized the Democrats had become. In 2008, it was about how the Republicans had become little more than a regional party, whose only supporters are fearful/hateful old people. Lesson here, is that two years following each of these death calls, the party in question had huge electoral victories. So, while the Democrats lost about as bad as any party can in American politics, it doesn't change the fact that the Democrats are still a major party and will without doubt take back congress someday*. And divided may actually work in favor of the Dems in upcoming election, but more on that later.
So, what I want to do is share somethings I think this election did teach us or perhaps some trends that emerged. Again, I'm refraining from any absolutes here, because things can change quick.
Colorado Turning Blue?- Colorado used to be a solid red state. A state where it was a waste of time for a Democrat to spend his time. I mean it would go blue in absolute landslides, like Georgia, but for the most part those electoral votes would go Republican.
Michael Bennet, the Democratic incumbent was able to hold his Senate seat in Colorado. This seemed like a sure pick up for the Republicans, but somehow in a year such as this, a Democrat was able to hold on in Colorado.
Colorado is state that has rapidly changing demographics and those are playing into the Democrats hands. Particularly the increase in the Hispanic population, along with the Republican position on immigration have given the Democrats a pretty good shot at continuing to win in Colorado.
The Tea Party Hurt the Republicans- As massive as Tuesday's victory was the Republicans, it could have been so much worse. Almost the entire reason for that is the Tea Party. The Republican may have picked up 80+ seats in the House and likely would have won control of the Senate had their not been 'Tea Party' candidates. In Colorado, Nevada, and Delaware the Republicans probably would have won easily had their Senate candidates just been mainstream Republicans.
If the tea party continues to be a force in Republican politics, and managed to get their nominee for President, shit will have really had to hit the fan for him to lose reelection. The tea party is very unpopular outside the conservative base and will likely hinder the Republicans in the future.
Of course now there are Tea Party members of Congress now, so the reality of governing may force them to change their ways. Things like voting against raising the Debt ceiling sounds good when you're just rabble-rousing, but when you're actually in government, it's very bad.
2012- It's hard to exactly project what this means for 2012. I mean 2 years is forever in Politics, now more than ever. With the constant media attention, a party or person can go from media darling to pariah. So, here are brief overviews two possible paths. These are both under the assumption that the economy remains shitty.
Good for GOP- The Democrats did hold onto the Senate and of course Obama is still President. If the economy is still bad, the Republicans can blame the Senate for acting on any of their bills or Obama's veto pen. That will probably have some resonance, if the Democrats are as bad message making as they are always are.
Good for Democrats- With GOP control of the House, the Republicans can be forced to take some ownership of the government. This would be aided if the Republicans go for a government shut down or something equally extreme. This allow the Democrats to blame the Republicans for the lack of anything getting done.
The biggest thing about that can be assured by the results is that absolutely nothing will pass for the next two years. The current congress was amazingly productive, but doesn't get any credit for it. That is almost entirely due to bungling of virtually all the big things that did pass by Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress. However, I think after two years of truly nothing getting done in Capitol, this congress will finally get some credit.
Thanks for reading and please comment.
*Probably sooner rather than later.