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November 8, 2006

Winners, Losers and Eh’s


Election night was no doubt a long, exciting, and – well, still ongoing – evening of close calls and largely predictable results. As Speaker-To-Be Nancy Pelosi readies herself to fulfill her Contract with NARAL Pro-Choice America, Congressional Democrats are thinking, “Wait, now what? Oh man, why did we have to promise we wouldn’t impeach the President?”


It is worthy of note, however, that despite the results appearing to be reflective of what the American people wanted, there are some not-so-obvious winners and losers that have come out of this election. There are also, of course, elements that have been overly inflated in their importance or victimization, that are not as significant as one would think. I call them “Eh’s.”


WINNER: Michael Steele

No, the Republican loss didn’t damage my brain to the point of insanity. I fully realize that he did not win Tuesday’s election, but Michael Steele won national prominence and the attention of Americans across the country. Though his election would have been nothing short of phenomenal for Republicans, Steele’s strength and potential didn’t merely lie in the 2006 Senate race. Steele will be back, one way or another, and with his brilliance, competence and ideology (and who are we kidding? – race, too), he can significantly change the country’s political alignment.


LOSER: Republican Main Street Partnership (RMSP)

It is very much important to understand that Republicans did not lose the elections because they were too conservative. They lost it, in large part, as a result of reckless spending and nonstop growth of the federal government – in other words, they were too liberal. The RMSP, a feel-good association of moderate (read: liberal) Republican leaders, took a big hit last night when they lost Senator Lincoln Chafee, their poster boy. In the House, RMSP member Joe Schwarz, who got ousted by Club for Growth-backed Tim Walberg in the primary, humiliated himself by refusing to endorse Walberg and filing as a write-in candidate. Despite Schwarz’s efforts, Walberg won.


EH: John McCain

Pundits are already discussing the benefits that a Republican defeat deals Senator John McCain, who is running for the presidency in 2008. The general idea is that his history of bipartisan behavior and appeal comes in at a time when Republicans would feel that they have to reach out more to the other side of the aisle as they pick their presidential nominee. But again, the last thing Republicans will want to do after a year of Nancy Pelosi at the helm is cater to Democrats by nominating someone who excessively reaches out to them. It will also be difficult for Republican primary voters to reward McCain’s erratic behavior over the years.


WINNER: Conservative Democrats

Although the Virginia and Montana Senate races remain too close to call, it seems that Democrats will end up on top. These two races are quite reflective of Democratic strategy this election cycle: running conservative Democrats. It may be a conservative gun-lover who takes the Montana race, and a former Reagan Republican who wins in Virginia. Many House seats were taken from Republicans by conservative Democrats. In short, although Republicans may have lost Congress, the debate has clearly shifted to the right in the last few years. Democrats now understand that they need to move to the right of where they would like to be in order to sustain their victories.


LOSER: Policy

Numerous races this cycle, both in the House and Senate, were won on character, or rather, on anti-character. With campaign ads focusing on candidates’ personal background and attacking their integrity, the people have failed to send with their vote a message of where they stand on policy issues. Although Americans might have voted against, say, the war in Iraq, the Democrats will take it as ticket to increase taxes and abortions. The lack of debate this cycle will lead to a frightening failure by Congress to tackle issues in the manner wished by the people.


EH: The Republican Party

While on the one hand their awful loss on Tuesday is indeed bad news for Republicans, there are definitely some positive aspects to their defeat. For one, two years of Nancy Pelosi and a probable Democratic Congress is bound to convince Americans that they did, in fact, make a terrible decision on November 7, 2006. This could lead to a Republican recovery in Congress and a hold in the White House in November of 2008. Further, although reduced in quantity, Congressional Republicans have now improved in quality. Having lost liberals like Chafee, they have also found solid conservatives to lead a revival reminiscent of 1994.


These are only some of the winners, losers, and eh’s that have come out of Tuesday’s elections. Time is certain to give rise to more, but for now, the general theme is that despite a Democratic victory, Americans’ message points toward a demand for more conservative Republican and Democratic parties – a shift to the right in the debate. It will surely be worth watching which, if either, learns from 2006 in time for 2008.


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