The race was close, but the loss is nevertheless a devastating setback for the Democrats. And, yes, J Street poured out money and put its name on the line for Joe Sestak. It is a loss not only for Sestak, for the Democrats, for the White House, and for the left more generally, but also for the mislabeled pro-Israel J Street, which proved to be neither pro-Israel nor an effective electoral player.
Posts For: November 2, 2010
In 2008, the Republican Party was thought to be headed for minority status as a rump party of the South. Tonight, the governorships of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and New Mexico are in GOP hands. Senate seats from New Hampshire to Illinois are flipping control. This does not mean that the Democrats permanently have become a rump party of the two coasts. “Permanent” is the stuff of fabulists. It does mean that the GOP now has the chance to prove to voters previously unwilling to give them a try that they can behave more responsibly than the Democrats. Oh, and Dino Rossi is leading in early returns in Washington State.
There are many states and stories to chew over in this election. But among the most fascinating — and, for Democrats, the most alarming — is Wisconsin, which, after tonight’s election, will qualify as a Red State. That is simply stunning.
The Senate race here hasn’t been called, and with the raw vote totals between the two candidates so close, it may not be called for hours. Yet as the percentage of votes counted gets closer to 100 percent, Pat Toomey continues to expand his lead, although it is still only 34,000 votes with 85 percent of the precincts in. The problem for Joe Sestak is that with the cities in and even suburban Montgomery county now 87 percent in (Sestak has a 22,000 margin there), most of the remaining votes are all coming from Republican-majority counties.
Sestak did far better than virtually anyone thought he would, holding Toomey to relatively small margins in places like Republican-majority Bucks County, a place where the GOP also appears to have retaken a House seat. But despite Sestak’s better-than-expected showing, this one may be over.
The famous story of the 1972 election (which originates, I have to tell you, with my mother, I believe) is the movie critic Pauline Kael greeting Nixon’s victory with: “I can’t believe he won. I don’t know anyone who voted for him.” Tonight on Twitter, the wildly successful kiddie horror writer R.L. Stine offered a 2010 version of the dreadful parochialism that afflicted Kael: “I’m so glad I live in New York City and not in the United States,” he wrote.
Well, John, what can I say? It is not by accident that California has become a economic basketcase. People generally get the government they deserve. Unfortunately, a nationwide recovery is made more difficult by California’s economic misery. I don’t expect the latter will change anytime soon.
It will be very interesting to see how President Obama interprets this massive repudiation. He has a press conference tomorrow; Obama will almost surely call for more bipartisanship and cooperation. He may well reach back to the rhetoric of 2008. But after two years of hyper-partisanship, the words will ring hollow. What will matter are substantive concessions by Obama. My guess is that there will be very few. And it’s possible that Obama, a man of extraordinary vanity, believes, at least privately, that this epic loss has very little to do with him. If that’s the case — and for the sake of the country I hope it’s not — then the depth of the president’s self-delusion is both staggering and alarming.
On MSNBC, Lawrence O’Donnell, who actually worked in politics for decades, attempted to explain to Keith Olbermann that just because Keith likes Russ Feingold and Republicans spent a lot of money to defeat him, one should attempt to figure out what collection of issues it was that did Feingold in. “When did Feingold ever turn his back on Wisconsin?” Olbermann demanded. And across O’Donnell’s face there came a look of complete and utter realization — that the man to whom he was speaking lives not on this earth but rather in Cloud Cuckoo Land.
Fox is calling both races in California for the Democrats, with business executives Carly Fiorina losing the Senate and Meg Whitman the governorship. This is telling — they were both theoretically dream candidates, self-consciously moderate, experienced. What they did not have was true passion or real purpose, even though Whitman spent $150 million of her own money.
From GOP tech-meister Patrick Ruffini: “The racist teabaggers have elected Marco Rubio, and Susana Martinez, and Tim Scott, and Nikki Haley, and Bill Flores, and Allen West, and…”
Mark Kirk and Pat Toomey have gone ahead in two Blue States. If the GOP captures Illinois and Pennsylvania Senate seats, gets more than 55 seats (the most since 1932), and gains governorships from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin to New Mexico, it is not a good night for the GOP. It is a historic thumping.
They’re cheering in Allentown, where Pat Toomey’s supporters are gathered. After trailing all night, the conservative Republican has finally taken a lead over Democrat Joe Sestak. With 77 percent of the vote counted, Toomey now leads by 15,000 votes. The problem for Sestak is that virtually all of Philadelphia’s votes are in. That city delivered a massive 275,000-vote plurality for the Democrat, but as the rest of the state’s ballots have come in, Toomey has made up the difference.
Timothy Carney of the Washington Examiner, once Robert Novak’s deputy, writes on Twitter: “Conservatives, if Toomey loses, Reid and Murkowski win, this is a bad night.” This is, not to put too fine a point on it, insane: A 65 seat pickup by the GOP in the House and six or seven seats in the Senate is a bad night?
One of Sarah Palin’s picks, Nikki Haley becomes South Carolina’s first woman governor. If Palin deserves some blame for Christine O’Donnell, she gets some credit for this one.
Joe Sestak’s lead is rapidly dwindling in the Pennsylvania Senate race. With 72 percent of the votes counted, his margin is down to fewer than 6,000 votes. At this rate, as votes straggle in from rural counties, one might expect that Toomey will soon be in the lead. But with only 29 percent still being reported from suburban Montgomery county, where Democrats hope their strength will be reflected, both sides are holding their breath.
Obama came to rallies for him, but the college kids didn’t put Feingold over the top. He lost and lost big. This is Wisconsin. Extraordinary.
Tonight’s results are enormously, even historically impressive for Republicans and a huge repudiation of President Obama and his party. His problems are unquestionably deeper and more challenging than Bill Clinton faced in 1994. Barack Obama is a badly wounded president overseeing a demoralized party.
The most substantial damage to Democrats is being done in the House, where it appears the GOP will pick up somewhere around 60 seats — double what Democrats won in 2006, in an election pundits referred to as a “landslide.” Indeed, Democrats House gains in both 2006 and 2008 will be more than washed away.
Republicans are also making substantial gains in races for governor, which will have important ramifications for 2012 (where governors tend to play a key role) and redistricting.
The Senate seems to be the area where Democrats will sustain the least damage (which is not to say no damage). It seems clear that Republicans will not retake the Senate, but it also looks as if they are going to pick up a very impressive number of seats.
Taken in total, this election qualifies, by any reasonable standard, as a tidal-wave election — bigger than 1994, the most impressive win in generations, and a political rebalancing that ranks near the greatest we have seen in our lifetime.
That’s not bad for a party that just two years ago was flat on its back and, in May 2009, was declared an “endangered species” on the cover of Time magazine. It has been an amazing comeback for the GOP — and terrible, swift fall from grace for Barack Obama.
Democrats have to be encouraged as Joe Sestak continues to hold on to his lead as more votes are counted in Pennsylvania. Toomey’s presumed advantage in the central and western regions of the state may not be enough to offset the overwhelming Democratic vote in Philadelphia. It appears that the Philly Democratic machine, one of the few political operations left in the country that deserve that label, may have delivered for Sestak.
There are some interesting results worth noting. Only 29 percent of the votes have been counted in Montgomery County in the Philadelphia suburbs. Once a Republican stronghold, it flipped to the Democrats in the last 15 years and may well make the difference for Sestak. On the other hand, elsewhere in the Philadelphia region, heavily Republican Chester has reported only 18 percent of its precincts. The suburbs may decide this race.
The GOP has captured the governorship and House seats in the 3rd, 7th, 8th, 10th, and 11th. The Senate race has narrowed to a bit more than three points. Pittsburgh is 98% counted. Philadelphia is 90% counted. It will be a squeaker, but Toomey looks as if he can pull it out. This would be another stunning reversal in a state Obama carried easily in 2008.
Jonathan, I agree with you completely. What’s interesting is that Rubio not only claims an affecting personal narrative; it’s a narrative that incorporates an organic backdrop of American exceptionalism. On the level of ideas, this makes for a stunning and sincere American story. Politically, it gives him an exponential edge on the Obama precedent.
Obama’s claim that his very existence is the product of an only-in-America story never quite made sense. As he frames it, it is the unlikely meeting, in Hawaii, of his Kenyan father and Kansan mother that translates into a uniquely American tale. But in truth, people from different countries can meet and couple off almost anywhere that allows a modicum of international travel. The story of Barack Obama Sr. and Stanley Ann Dunham is a story of American geography. Marco Rubio’s story is of another type entirely. As the son of Cuban exiles who came to America specifically to capitalize on its freedoms, Rubio’s only-in-America narrative is ideologically constitutive of, and concordant with, his political bearing. That’s the kind of power that transcends charisma.