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A mishmash.

Some post-election-night-posts:

NBC's Mark Murray:

With Mark Critz's victory in Pennsylvania, this becomes the SEVENTH-straight competitive special House contest that Democrats have won and the GOP has lost since 2008.

And as we pointed out in First Read this morning, this GOP loss -- in this environment -- raises REAL questions about the Republican Party's ability to take back in the House in November.

Why? If the GOP couldn't win here -- the only congressional seat that John Kerry won in '04 but Obama lost in '08 -- it's not going to have an easy time netting the 40 House seats in November it needs to retake the House.

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The GOP's special failure

All the evidence pointing to monster Republican House gains this fall—the Scott Brown upset win in Massachusetts, the scary polling numbers in once-safely Democratic districts, the ever-rising number of Democratic seats thought to be in jeopardy—was contradicted Tuesday.

In the only House race that really mattered to both parties—the special election to replace the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha in Pennsylvania’s 12th District—Republicans failed spectacularly, losing on a level playing field where, in this favorable environment, they should have run roughshod over the opposition.

Given the resources the GOP poured into the effort to capture the seat and the decisiveness of the defeat—as it turned out, it wasn’t really that close—the outcome casts serious doubt on the idea that the Democratic House majority is in jeopardy and offers comfort to a Democratic Party that is desperately in search of a glimmer of hope.

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..."The lesson will be define the choice very early," said DCCC Chair Chris Van Hollen in an interview. "This is not a referendum on how you feel about the general direction of the country, it’s a choice about how we move forward. And you have to define the differences on key policy issues.

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Marc Ambinder:

Winners and losers:

Winners: Organized labor and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, which identified Blanche Lincoln's vulnerabilities early on and stuck by its collective decision to hold Democrats accountable ... OFA -- Organizing for America, John Hagner, the DCCC's targeting director, and Marlon Marshal, the DCCC's field director, and the 200 other Democratic field operatives who quietly parachuted into Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional district a week ago (more than 123,000 volunteer calls were made) ... Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who knew that his candidate, Mark Critz, had to run a race that fit his district ... Candidates who don't speak like politicians ... The DSCC's Eric Schultz, consultants Mandy Grunwald and Mo Elleithee and others who helped Dick Blumenthal survive his first day post scandal by planning and executing his local and national response...and MoveOn/The Accountability Project, whose members recruited Bill Halter to run, who raised money for him, and who helped Sestak with the support the Dem establishment didn't give him.

(Republican winners and all losers behind the link :)

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Nate Silver:

What Tuesday Really Meant

Pennsylvania -- Democratic Senate primary

The results: Joe Sestak defeats Arlen Specter, 54-46.

The conventional wisdom: This was a stunning repudiation of the Democratic establishment.

The reality: Certainly, Specter had the support of a lot of Very Important People, including the President, many unions, and the mayors of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. But in many cases, it seemed perfunctory. The White House elected not to send either Barack Obama or Joe Biden to the state in the closing days. The unions were nominally supporting Specter, but were concentrating their cash in Arkansas and elsewhere. As Sestak began to emerge as the superior general election candidate, their support grew even more tepid.... Joe Sestak is a mainline, lunchpail Democrat who defeated a very unpopular Republican-turned-Democrat who ran an awful campaign and who Pennsylvania Democrats weren't used to punching their ticket for. No huge shock there.

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Pennsylvania 12th Congressional District -- Special election

The results: Mark Critz (D) defeats Tim Burns (R), 53-45.

The conventional wisdom: A big, clutch win for Democrats.

The reality: Neither outcome would have been surprising here. The polling showed a toss-up, and the district (with a PVI of R+1) is close to the national median. There's a lot of variance in open-seat elections for the House; even in an environment like 2008, Democrats would have had about a 30 percent chance of losing this seat, and even in one as relatively poor for them as 2004, they would have had about a 40 percent chance of winning it.

Still, the 8-point margin of victory was surprising. As I wrote yesterday morning: "It's really only if one of the candidates wins by middle-to-high single digits ... that [PA-12] might tell us something", and Critz met that threshold.
Republicans have some decent excuses; they may have been harmed by the fact that there was a contentious Democratic Senate primary occurring at the same time, for instance, and the DCCC seems to have a peculiar knack for winning special elections. The Democratic candidate ran against his party's health care bill! But make no mistake: there are garbage cans being kicked, and consultants being sworn at, at NRCC headquarters right now...

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Personally i find the notion that somehow the White House is upset over the loss of 80 years old-ex Republican-who was not going to win in November - to be very strange. I don't think David Axelrod could care less:

..."For us, the most important race was the only general-election race on the ballot, which was the special in Pennsylvania. When Murtha passed away, the Republican Party was very bullish on winning that seat. The Democrat won by more than a few points there. So the conventional wisdom about this year is suspect. If you have a Democratic candidate who runs a good, strong race, they can win -- and they can win in a challenging district."

--Axe, on Rand Paul: "The Republican Party became narrower still tonight. ... The Republican Party further defined itself."

--Axe, on Specter: "We appreciate the courageous votes he cast in the last year and a half. And on that basis, we gave him our support and our help. But everyone understood that was going to be a tough race."

--Axe, on November: "This was an encouraging sign tonight, but I have no illusions. We are the party in power in a time of great economic upheaval. But I'm encouraged by what I saw tonight. We are prepared for battle. We'll grind it out, district by district, race by race. We have a good story to tell."

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Anyway, here's Sestak after receiving a phone call from the president:
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President Obama was in Youngstown, Ohio, yesterday, visiting the V&M Star manufacturing plant:
From the NYT:

President Obama came Tuesday to this area long synonymous with economic distress to take a few strides on a victory lap for the policies he credits with helping create jobs and to knock Republicans for standing in the way.

"Despite all the naysayers in Washington, who are always looking for the cloud in every silver lining, the fact is our economy is growing again," Mr. Obama told an audience of several hundred workers in a cavernous -- and expanding -- pipe-making plant, citing four months of job growth.

The president mocked Republicans in Congress who voted in near unanimity against his economic stimulus plan but at home participate in ribbon-cuttings for the job-creating projects it has helped finance.

"If the 'just say no' crowd had won out," he said, "if we had done things the way they wanted to go, we'd be in a deeper world of hurt than we are right now."

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...Mr. Obama’s expressions of confidence in the economy and his political swipes at the opposition have both become more pronounced lately. Last year, even amid early signs of recovery, the president tempered his boasts because jobs continued to be lost, though in decreasing numbers. He has stepped up his attacks on Republicans as they have continued to dig in against his agenda, and as the midterm elections grow closer.
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Owners of the factory, which has been adapted from a former steel works dating to the early 1900s, in an industrial corridor dotted with rusted and long-abandoned plants, recently announced plans to invest $650 million to expand by a million square feet. Mr. Obama called that the biggest manufacturing investment in Ohio since the 1960s.

According to the company and the White House, V&M’s decision came about in part because the state is using $20 million from last year’s $787 billion stimulus act to prepare the site for the plant’s expansion and to rebuild a nearby rail yard so the company can move freight to the main rail line.

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Steve Benen adds:

...Now, the notion that the economy has significantly improved is incontrovertible, despite the ongoing difficulties facing so many, and the fragility of the recovery. But it's that second point that seems especially important.

Indeed, if 2010 should be a referendum on anything, it should be in response to one straightforward question: when the Great Recession was at its worst, and the economy stood at the brink of collapse, who got it right and who got it wrong?

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Faced with the most pressing economic challenge in generations, the GOP proposed dangerous gibberish. The consequences of the Republican prescription would likely have been catastrophic.

There's ample room for debate about whether the recovery efforts have been ambitious enough, and whether more can/should be done. But what's beyond debate is that the United States was extremely fortunate that there was a Democratic majority in place 16 months ago. There's certainly nothing wrong with the president reminding folks about this nagging detail.

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Here's the president's full speech from yesterday. Give yourself 20 minutes and watch. The way the crowd of blue-collar workers responded suggest to me that the conventional wisdom in Washington about November, is far from the facts on the ground.
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All these by AP. Please don't hot-link.
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President Obama yesterday at V&M Star in Youngstown, Ohio:

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(Official White House photo by Pete Souza).

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It's Mexico day today at the White House. The president and the first lady hosting president President Felipe Calderon and Mexican first lady Margarita Zavala, to a state dinner:
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The first ladies and the kids of New Hampshire Elementary School, in Silver Spring, Md.
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And, of course, once again, this:
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Originally posted to blackwaterdog on Wed May 19, 2010 at 01:06 PM PDT.

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