November 10, 2006

If James Carville, et al., are serious about this, the Democratic Party rank-and-file had better make their voices heard. We just picked up at least thirty seats in the House, our best effort in decades, and took a majority for the first time in a dozen years, in large part because Howard Dean pursued a strategy of challenging the Republicans in every district, taking the fight to all fifty states. Many of the incoming freshman class will represent districts that are heavily Republican in voter registration, the types of seats that the party establishment would aver that they were beyond any hope of capture, and it's because of the 50-state Strategy.

Many of the longshots didn't pan out, of course, but there are a lot of Republican and conservative voters in Wyoming, lets say, or in Idaho-1, that voted for a Democrat for the first time, a pivitol step towards any realignment. Reaching beyond the base means the party might see a day when no region of the country can be written off, which is the true mark of a majority party. And it shows respect and reverence for others, that we don't view our fellow citizens as "Red Staters," but as members of a governing coalition, as potential constituents, and most importantly, as fellow Americans. Dean and his allies in the blogosphere forced the GOP to defend areas that it had perceived as being untouchable, but were in fact soft, and the result was a victory of national proportions.
Lincoln Chafee has always struck me as a decent sort, someone who was a Republican pretty much because he was born into it, and not out of conviction. His refusal to endorse George Bush during the last election and his early opposition to the war in Iraq are testament to that; I would rather be represented by him than Joe Lieberman any day.

But I think any decision by him to switch parties comes three days too late and a dollar short. We could have used him the last six years, but now that he lost his seat, what difference does it make what party he belongs to?

November 09, 2006

Phoenician Update: Tony Blair doesn't go on trial until January, according to the Channel 4 website. We Americans will have to wait awhile longer....

November 08, 2006

One day after forcing out L.A. Times editor Dean Baquet, the Tribune Company now faces a joint takeover effort by local billionaires Ron Burkle and Eli Broad. They would also become owners of the Chicago Cubs, btw.
All in all, not a bad night for California Dems. Schwarzenegger won, but he was expected to, and he's sui generis in any event. I voted for Angelides, more out of a sense of duty and partisan loyalty than anything else, but the California Democratic Party has the potential to become as corrupt and calcified as the national Republicans (as would be attested by our disastrous Insurance Commissioner nominee; not even I could stomach voting for Bustamante), and I know of few people who are heartbroken over Ahnolt's reelection. Surprisingly, Schwarzenegger's victory was narrower than Gray Davis' win over Dan Lundgren eight years ago.

Besides those two position, the Democrats won all other statewide offices by margins more comfortable than expected, and the bond measures supported by the governor and legislative leaders passed easily. The party maintained comfortable majorities in both houses of the legislature, losing only one seat in the State Senate and none in the Assembly (thank you, Michael Berman !!), and Diane Feinstein breezed to reelection; in fact, her opponent may be the first Republican Senate candidate since forever not to break 50% in the O.C.. I would have liked to see Props 87 and 89 pass, but those are the breaks, I guess....
Differing takes on the 2008 battle for the U.S. Senate, here and here. Three Republicans (Warner, Domenici and Stevens) are close to retirement, two (Coleman and Smith) represent Blue States, one (Allard) is in the Red State that has moved most sharply to the left over the past six years, and one (Collins) is the Republican most likely to switch parties in the aftermath of last night. Of the Democrats, two (Landrieux and Johnson) have to be considered in a fair amount of trouble, and two (Kerry and Biden) have Presidential hopes, although both would likely be replaced by a Democrat. Twenty-one of the thirty three Senate seats are held by Republicans, so the prospects for increasing our majority are quite favorable.

Anyone who wants the new Democratic majority to spend the next two years refighting the first half of the decade is an idiot. Maybe the newbies aren't "conservative" in the classical sense, but the majority in either house of Congress isn't enough to pass whatever grand progressive vision we might have, much less override a veto. The Democrats have a majority because the voters in the Midwest and Northeast turned virulently anti-Republican, and because Howard Dean and his allies in the blogosphere demanded the party pursue a 50-state strategy, not because of some panacea offered by our party. The next two years will be tough enough, thank you.

If you want the party to be more militant, run for office yourself. Or perhaps actually get someone elected, rather than riding on Rahm Emmanuel's and Chuck Schumer's coattails or whining about how the party stabbed poor Ned Lamont in the back. It's thanks to you guys that we now have to spend the next two years kissing up to that pisher Joe Lieberman, hoping that we don't say something that sends him into the arms of the GOP.
With the networks now calling Montana for Tester, and Webb continuing to lead Allen by a slight but significant margin in Virginia, Democratic prospects to capture the Senate as well as the House seem imminent. The thing that strikes me about the last night's results is how regional the GOP now is. Only five of the House pick-ups (and possibly one in the Senate) came in the South, and two of those seats were in districts (KY-3 and FL-22) that Kerry and Gore captured in the past two Presidential elections. Two other seats (FL-16 and TX-22) were directly attributable to scandal-ridden incumbents resigning after winning their primaries, preventing the Republicans from putting a new candidate on the ballot, leaving only Heath Shuler's win in NC-11 as an example of the Democrats going into a Red District in Dixie and emerging victorious.

It was the rest of the country that rejected Republicanism. More than half of the gains in the House came in states the Democrats have won in either of the past two Presidential elections. The key to Republican dominance since 1994 has been to maintain a sizable contingent of Congressmen representing suburban and exurban districts in the North and Midwest, buttressing the party base in the Old Confederacy. That contingent doesn't exist anymore, certainly not after last night; George Bush and Karl Rove have now scared away conservative and centrist voters from every section of the country, and the few that remain, like Christopher Shays, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Susan Collins, are going to be the ones most likely to switch parties in the near future. The post-2006 Republican Party is the least national party since the post-Reconstruction Democratic Party

November 07, 2006

Democrats win the Big Enchillada tonight. At least one House of Congress will be in the hands of the Democrats, a prospect that would have been unthinkable after the gloom of two years ago, and win significant pick-ups at the statehouse level as well. Only the Senate is too close to call.

Winning the House is everything. The center of GOP power since 1994, seemingly protected by a firewall of gerrymandered districts, has been busted up, and although many of tonight's winners will face some difficult partisan arithmetic in the future, the Republican Aura of Invincibility has been shattered. Even if we fall short in the remaining Senate races, the next two cycles disfavor the Republicans, where they will have to defend forty of the sixty-six seats.
Some very, very interesting exit poll commentary collected here. Karl Rove is going to have to work a double shift to screw us out of this election.
My sister informs me that at her polling place in Los Feliz, none of the pollworkers showed up this morning, leaving a stack of ballots to the elements. She's been waiting for an hour, with only her ingrained honesty preventing her from swinging this election to Phil for Debra Bowen, please !!!

November 06, 2006

Some late polls by Polimetrix, which seem to indicate that the Democrats are close to capturing the Senate tomorrow night. Although these polls are consistent with the other snapshots, a glaring exception is in Connecticut, where it has Lamont pulling within four points of Lieberman.
Pond scum.
Meteor Bowl: In college football parlance, a "meteor bowl" is any game between two schools you hate, with the optimal result being that a meteor crash into the stadium and destroy both teams. For a USC fan, it would be Notre Dame-UCLA; for an Aggie Fan, it's Texas-Oklahoma; Auburn fans view the Alabama-Georgia game with that sort of venom.

For me, it's the Senate race in Connecticut. Each time I feel a sense of schadenfreude at the collapse of Lamont campaign, and the hubris of the netroots and the a-hole bloggers, I remember that there are real issues involved, issues concerning a war that Lieberman has publicly backed, and that St. Joseph's true colors have been revealed this year. His sense of entitlement to his Senate seat, his pompous sense of betrayal that his Senate colleagues would actually endorse their party's nominee after the primary, and his whiny outrage that Connecticut Democrats would actually want to hold him accountable for the thousands of deaths resulting from the war for which he has cheerled, reminds me why, in spite of what an empty, Mike Huffingtonesque suit that he is, Ned Lamont still must win, and why his incompetent campaign since winning the nomination is so painful.

The anger and hatred of Lieberman and his blogger foes has spiraled into a clusterfuck of unfathomable proportions, with each side surpassing the other on a daily basis. Better for the Democrats to pick up five seats on Tuesday than six.
In the wake of polls showing a late narrowing of the generic party gap, comes this even more demoralizing news: Dick Morris is predicting a Democratic landslide.