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The past five weeks have afforded us an avalanche of post-mortems for the recently completed election cycle. Today, let me add mine.

It won't sound like many you've read. Certainly, it won't echo a lot of the "ascendant Republicans" or "center-right nation" bellowing being parroted by traditional media outlets. Both exit polling and conventional polling shows that the Republican brand name is still pretty damaged. Indeed, the most shocking exit poll finding, given the final results, was that the electorate had a lower opinion of Republicans (41/53) than Democrats (44/52).

The guy that had the best read on the electorate, in that respect, was our polling partner Tom Jensen. Jensen, noted, in November of 2009, that he was seeing Republicans dominating among voters who disapproved of both parties. His analysis, which seems to have fit well with what happened: voters who disliked both parties went Republican, on the prospect that a GOP candidate would be more likely to "shake things up" and provide changes.

So, no, this won't be a "woe are the Democrats" piece.

But nor will it be a Kevin Bacon in Animal House-esque piece exhorting you to "remain calm...All is well!"

Getting 63 House seats and a half-dozen Senate seats shot out from under you is nothing that can be minimized, especially when those losses are married with literally hundreds of state legislative seats that also switched hands. The election has to be humbling for Democrats, and requires some serious debate about where to go from here. But that, too, is not the subject matter for this piece.

Today, in the name of going against the grain, let us celebrate three things about the just-completed elections. While the losses were both staggering and sobering, there are a few glimmers of silver lining that emerged from this cycle, believe it or not.

1. Stock up on popcorn--the GOP is still on track for a train wreck
In the wake of November 2nd, the thing that surprised me was the relatively light amount of intraparty recriminations in the GOP. If that seems counterintuitive, given their huge gains, consider: the "establishment v. teabagger" civil war in the GOP might have cost the Republicans FOUR Senate seats.

Three of them are fairly obvious: polling during the cycle confirmed that the GOP nominated three less-electable candidates in Ken Buck (CO), Sharron Angle (NV), and Christine O'Donnell (DE). So, instead of incoming GOP Senators Jane Norton, Danny Tarkanian, and Mike Castle, we get instead a trio of Democrats: Michael Bennet, Harry Reid, and Chris Coons.

But there was a potential fourth casualty of the GOP civil war: Dino Rossi. Remember that the mid-August GOP primary in Washington State, turned fairly acrimonious at the last. You might recall, for example, that the tea party favorite that Rossi vanquished, Clint Didier, did not handle defeat well, pointedly and vocally refusing to endorse the victor.

It is worth noting that nationally, the electorate skewed Republican. While Barack Obama won in 2008 by more than seven points, the 2010 exit polls showed an electorate that split evenly between Obama and McCain. But exit polls also show that such was not the case in Washington, where the margin was only a few points different between the 2010 exit polls and the actual results from 2008. Furthermore, while the conservative/liberal gap nationally exploded (from C+12 in 2008 to C+22 in 2010), it barely moved in Washington State (from C+5 in 2008 to C+6 in 2010). In a race as close as this one proved to be (52-48), it is possible that Didier's contentious challenge was a difference-maker? Quite possibly.

And, for Democrats, the good news is that there little to suggest that the GOP has set aside their self-destructive ways in advance of 2012. The confetti had barely been swept up from the 2010 midterms before a state senator began openly contemplating a primary challenge to the right of longtime Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN). Meanwhile, in Maine, Olympia Snowe has tacked to the right in an effort to avoid being Mike Castle'd, as well. But it might be for naught, apparently the Maine Tea Party is already crowing about having a conservative candidate waiting in the wings to offer a primary challenge to Snowe.

And, friends, that isn't even taking into account the pending presidential primary on the Republican side. Given the propensity for some of the biggest potential players in that particular contest for throwing elbows (Palin? Gingrich?), the entertainment factor could be sky high.

2. Money matters, but it is not a guarantee of victory.
On a number of levels, the most satisfying result on Election Night, for me, was the defeat of Republican Meg Whitman here in California. Aside from the obvious (she wouldn't be my governor, nor would I have to see another damned TV ad for her campaign), there was a bigger factor.

California seemed to be one of the few states impervious to the Republican wave, and Whitman may well have been the primary reason why. Make no mistake: her defeat was a resounding one. Her percentage of the vote (a tick under 41%) is the worst performance for a Republican in a gubernatorial election since 1998, and the second-worst since Jerry Brown's last gubernatorial win...in 1978.

Whitman's campaign was an interesting case study. Historically, the presumption has been that if you win the money game, and you win the air war, you would win the election. Whitman's historic act of self-promotion (which shattered...perhaps forever...every record for campaign spending in a statewide campaign) would seem to be tailored for victory, according to the classic presumptions about politics. ESPECIALLY in a year which seemed to favor the GOP on a macro-level.

Instead, the opposite happened. The more Whitman saturated the airwaves, the worse she performed. She went from even money to a slight underdog by Labor Day. By October, she was a decided underdog. By November, she was left resorting to that classic rallying cry of the about-to-be-defeated: "the only poll that counts is the one on Election Day."

There were examples of this nationwide, although many of them did not necessarily favor the Democrats. There were multiple examples of this phenomenon in House races where comparably lightly-funded Republicans defeated Democratic incumbents. This is not unusual in wave elections, a fact I noted in July, when I warned that money alone does not hold back the tide of a typical wave election.

But it is heartening to think that Whitman's high-profile drubbing might dissuade future generations of gazillionaire dilettantes from trying to buy political office, seeing how her $160 million investment came up so memorably short.

3. Some of the most painful Dem defeats can pay dividends down the line
This is arguably the most tarnished silver lining, but when you lose a few hundred seats, you take 'em where you can get 'em. When life gives you lemons, and all that...

The size and nature of the Republican wave did usher in some GOP victors who would have been totally unelectable in a typical election cycle. The job for the Democrats now is to take those souls and make them the public face of the GOP from this point forward.

And there are some great prospects. Sure, incoming Senator Rand Paul gets most of the attention, but what about someone like Ron Johnson, whose business career embodies the "smaller government, unless it is enriching me" philosophy?

And sure, the GOP turnout surge in Florida to elect Marco Rubio got him elected, but that's no reason not to make Medicare fraudster Rick Scott the face of the Florida GOP.

And we won't even delve into the peanut gallery that is the GOP's freshman class in the House.

Sure, it might not matter if Democratic enthusiasm continues to be suppressed. But one thing that can often resurrect enthusiasm is creating great villains. Therein lies one lesson of 2010 that the Democrats would do very well to learn.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 02:09 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  whitman was part of a larger trend (16+ / 0-)

    Nationwide, over the past several elections, self-funded candidates (those who get 50% or more of their campaign funds from themselves) have only won about 10% of the time.

  •  "Creating great villains" (6+ / 0-)

    Isn't that, essentially, Democrats swapping out principles and policies for tribalism? Not sure that's gonna do the trick in 2012 to counter the enthusiasm gap, and it sure as hell didn't work for the Dems in 2010.

    I dunno, call me crazy, but I'd much rather see the Dems come up with a working-folks legislative policy and overarching ideology than play the "Look! They said or did something stupid!" distraction game any more--particularly while Democrats are actively legislating right-wing policies.

  •  Regarding establishment vs. teabagger... (9+ / 0-)

    ...keep an eye on DeMint vs. McConnell. Little Jimmy wants the Turtle's Senate Minority Leader position so bad, he's come out against the "compromise". And since both of them openly hate President Obama, guess which direction their pissing contest will be aimed.

    As for the freshman "peanut gallery", Allen West may be very entertaining. Kind of like Alan Keyes with military experience!

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 02:22:14 PM PST

  •  It's good to see optimism (17+ / 0-)

    I'm really getting tired of all the doom and gloom here on the site. We need to realize that one election does not doom a party for generations. We can come back, but we need to be more enthusiastic and willing to fight for the change Obama campaigned on.

    •  Note that, as I said in another comment... (5+ / 0-)

      ...a fight is brewing amongst some Republicans in the Senate already. This may translate into the "compromise" failing to pass, in order to embarass the President and the Senate Minority Leader. Some purists may make life hard for the establishment Republicans, too.

      Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

      by JeffW on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 02:27:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sunbro, esquimaux, Matt Z, HylasBrook

      We just need for the economy to improve. If it does, nothing can stop the Dems. If it doesn't, nothing can save the Dems.

      People panic too much on this site.

      by thematt523 on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 02:27:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm worried that if it improves, the Republicans (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Marmaduke2

        will take credit for it.  If it doesn't, then of course it is Obama's fault.

        Forget about the work Obama and the Democrat Congress did to rebuild the economy.  The Republicans are very good at making people think the change in administrations is some political stop light instead more like a river.

        HylasBrook @62 - fiesty, fiery, and fierce

        by HylasBrook on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 03:39:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  well, then (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Matt Z, HylasBrook

          we're fucked. I'm sorry, but there is nothing else that can improve the climate for us.

          People panic too much on this site.

          by thematt523 on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 04:06:59 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  we may not be able to improve our climate, (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Matt Z, TofG, HylasBrook

            but the Republicans are going to trainwreck, either way it goes. The American population is generally moderate to apathetically bored, so when the tea partiers and the rest of the crazies begin to push things a little bit too far, there's going to be a train wreck. And it is up to us to make that train wreck as bad as possible. Media Blitzkrieg, etc. like the Republicans have been running against us as this point. People are fascinated by them, because they created a stink. We need to create our own stink.

            "Force the issues in the back of your head where eyes roll. Brain wash yourself out of that mind control. Or act a fool like you're told" - Sage Francis

            by BoredScribe on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 04:10:26 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I agree. I'm going to work for Democratic (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Odysseus

            candidates, but I'm pessimistic. Sure the Republicans are on the way to being a trainwreck, but they are winning elections.

            The senate races we lost Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Wisconsin, those seats are gone for 6 years.

            We all have to keep plugging and not give up, but I don't feel optimistic.   I hope I'm wrong.

            HylasBrook @62 - fiesty, fiery, and fierce

            by HylasBrook on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 05:49:16 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  So what if it only kinda improves? n/t (0+ / 0-)
    •  I'm optimistic about the nect election (7+ / 0-)

      The problem is that the one step forward two steps back approach is eating up what little time remains to address climate change, peak oil and our crumbling infrastructure.

      I'm pretty much convinced that the message we need to be focused on is no more compromise with Republicans.

      Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

      by rktect on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 02:37:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So the plan is (4+ / 0-)

        to insist to the public that we promise we won't cave next time?

        "Whenever a fellow tells me he's bipartisan, I know he's going to vote against me."-- Harry S. Truman

        by irmaly on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 02:44:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Wish there was a medicine to stiffen (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus, irmaly, Tracker

          Democrats' spine.  I realize they actually want to govern, unlike Republicans that want to give the candy store to the wealthy.

          But if the Democrats go down the road they've been going we are going to  have a bunch of really bad laws we can't change.

          Forest rangers are getting injured and killed & now have to wear bullet proof vests because Coburn got that gun law into a credit card bill Obama had to pass.

          Stupak got to turn the screws one more time on women by creating this crazy two check scheme for women need to be able to use health insurance to pay for their abortions.

          What other crap will Obama sign just to get a good law passed?

          Maybe we should let tea party people find out exactly what it's like to have no government.

          Admittedly, that is a fantasy because 'no government' would hurt people who are already being screwed over by Republican intransigence.

          But Obama can put the shoe on the other foot and veto Republican legislation.  It will get overridden in the house (do Repubs have enough votes to override a veto?) and will get killed in the senate, unless of course the Democratic senators decide a crappy piece of legislation is better than no legislation.

          This is, unfortunately, the path Democrats go down & they will lose and lose again and the whole country with them.  They're going have to wait till demographics are in their favor.  And any group that waits for external circumstances to make things turn their way is hopelessly doomed.

          Democrats have ALWAYS done this & are constitutionally  incapable of letting a bad bill die.

          Harry Reid could have  used the nuclear option to pass bills, he didn't and so we have so much legislation that wasn't passed, which hurt us.

          $5 says the Democrats WON'T change the fillibuster rule, so we'll have a do nothing congress and who knows who will be the President in 2013.

          HylasBrook @62 - fiesty, fiery, and fierce

          by HylasBrook on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 04:01:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Unless the GOP takes hostages. (0+ / 0-)
    •  Not to turn this into an Obama-bashing thread (6+ / 0-)

      but it would be a hell of a good start if Obama would start fighting for the change he campaigned for.

      "That kind of ignorant must hurt." -- Mrs. Max on teabaggers

      by Black Max on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 02:55:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not only that, (0+ / 0-)

        but that EVERYONE here, in Congress, and around the country stop blaming and start taking some responsibility for making that change happen.  There is plenty of blame to go around.

        Reading dKos sometimes, you'd think that Obama's the only one who did not do exactly the right things.

        Fuck. Let's unite and win, Damn it!  Enough of the backbiting!

        -4.75, -5.33 Cheney 10/05/04: "I have not suggested there is a connection between Iraq and 9/11."

        by sunbro on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 04:00:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Huh? (3+ / 0-)

    And sure, the GOP turnout surge in Florida to elect Marco Rubio got him elected, but that's no reason not to make Medicare fraudster Rick Scott the face of the Florida GOP.

    If you think creating a GOP villain in the state of Florida is going to be a winner in Florida for Obama, don't waste your time or your fantasies.  

    The fact is one of the few things Democrats tried to do before the November elections was portray the GOP as villains.  How did that work out on election day?  

    "I wonder how many times you have to be hit on the head before you find out who's hitting you?" Harry Truman - 1948

    by ThAnswr on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 02:26:22 PM PST

  •  In re: #3 (5+ / 0-)

    One thing that is tough to do after a wave (as in 2006) is defend the edges.  I like the idea of hanging the fringe around their neck and going hard for a do-over in those seats... I suspect many voters will be ready for that in 2 years.

    To paraphrase the old saying... vote in haste, repent at leisure.

    www.dailykos.com is America's Blog of Record

    by WI Deadhead on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 02:29:28 PM PST

  •  Get Better, Even the Best, Democratic Candidates (0+ / 0-)

    I feel better already!

    "Result: the Tea Party. Vote backward, vote Tea Party!" Keith Olbermann

    by wild hair on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 02:29:48 PM PST

  •  I concur with your analysis.... (5+ / 0-)

    But in regards to money, I want to draw an analogy to Major League Baseball: having a giant payroll is not guarantee that you'll win the World Series (See, e.g., the Yankees), but NOT having a giant payroll is a guarantee you're going nowhere (see Pirates, Royals, Mariners...).  So, while money can't BUY you an election, not having money isn't even going to get you in the game....

    Which is the most insidious aspect of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission: there's tremendous potential for deep pockets with narrow interests to pressure incumbents on marginal issues, with the threat of creating some jackass out of nowhere, just to wear down the incumbent.  In Oregon, some stupid bastards tried to do that to Peter Defazio--but Congressman Defazio, he don't play.

    But Steve!  "... Kevin Bacon in Animal House-esque piece exhorting you to 'remain calm...All is well!'..."  Come ON now!  Did you cite to Animal House, because Birth of A Nation was already checked out from the library?

  •  There are seats won in a flood tide that will (7+ / 0-)

    return to their natural constituency when the tide recedes.  Adler in NJ-3 is one of them.  NJ-3 is a Republican district.  So, some of the losses were to be expected.  The problem, in my mind, is the failure of the Democrats to wield the kind of legislative power and demonstrate the kind of social/political agenda they campaigned on.  The country needs change and Democrats were delighted to hop on Obama's Hopey-Changey Express to electoral office.  Once the election was over, business as usual.  People may not hang on every detail, but they get the drift:  lots for me, not much for you.  

    Does anyone here appreciate the magnitude of the breakdown of law in the mortgage mess?  Property ownership is shot, like, down and dying, if the problems in this debacle are not dealt with.  You won't be able to count on owning anything but debt if this continues.  And it isn't just homes, it's any property.  Think you own it?  Hey, sucker, you pay for it, we own it.  Because we say so, and no one in power will gainsay us.  It's truly unbelievable how profoundly the concept of the independent integrity of the law has been violated.  This alone bodes very ill.

  •  Didier Not a Factor in Washington State (8+ / 0-)

    I think you are stretching by suggesting Didier hurt Rossi in Washington.  Dino was soiled goods from his previous gubernatorial losses.  He just wasn't going to do well in the Puget Sound Counties where most of the voters live.  He did well in Didier's jack rabbit counties of Eastern Washington, but that is only 20% of the state population.  The word here in Washington is that the private polling commissioned by both the Dems and the GOP, which included cell phone voters, never showed the race as close as the public polling did. A well respected former State Republican Chairman opined recently that no republican who can win in a senate or governors race can be nominated and there is a lot of truth in that.  I also think that the red wave stopped when it got to the West Coast.  Democrats held up well in all three of the contiguous coastal states.

  •  Democrats are basically dead (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nippersdad, TofG, Willa Rogers

    Sure, they might win the White House with a corporatist like Obama, but at the Congressional level, Democrats are pretty much shut out now.  

  •  But it would be uncivil.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Navy Vet Terp, nippersdad

    To point out what total frauds the GOP are, or comment on it in any way. The people have spoken and we must atone for our hubris.

    Let the Hippie punching begin.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 02:42:24 PM PST

    •  Kinda hard to call them "frauds"... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tracker, joanneleon, xaxnar

      ...while at the same time Dems are legislating the GOP's policies, like extending tax cuts for the wealthy, or acquiescing to an open engagement in Afghanistan.

      •  The difference is... (0+ / 0-)

        Those Dems can convince themselves it's the responsible thing to do. The Republicans don't really care what they do as long as it drives liberals crazy.

        "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

        by xaxnar on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 05:39:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Should President Obama have any interest (8+ / 0-)

    in patching things up with progressives, and in the event that the opportunity should arise, there may be one way to find a silver lining in our loss of the Senate seat in Wisconsin: Russ Feingold would make an outstanding addition to the Supreme Court.

    In addition to his fitness as a justice -- his independent intellect, his progressive values, and his unfailing insistence upon upholding Constitutional liberties -- as a (soon-to-be) former Senator, he might have an easier path through a hostile Senate than someone unknown.  While it is never a safe bet to wager against Republican obstructionism, I nevertheless have a hard time believing that someone like Senator McCain could so quickly pivot from heaping praise upon Senator Feingold to mounting a filibuster to stop him from being confirmed to the Court.

  •  Follow the ball to a logical conclusion: (11+ / 0-)

    What, exactly, are the Republicans going to do to make life better for Americans?  

    Crickets......or lies.  

    The lies still scare me.  They can kill anything good in health care reform and then blame Obama for health care reform.  The Dem's better get their act together on messaging.  For God's sake, will someone hire George Lakoff?  

    Back to logical conclusions:  cut services, cut government jobs, cut teachers, firefighters and by all means get rid of snow plows.  Loosen regulations on food, medicine, water, auto safety.  Go right ahead.  Swell the unemployment rolls with out of work teachers and firefighters.  And by all means let's stop all those loafing kids from getting a college education and put them on the management track at Walmart.  Whose goods will become cheaper and cheaper, disposable TV's and refrigerators every year, full of noxious chemicals in landfills.  Let's get rid of all those pesky provisions like the end of lifetime caps, the end to pre-existing conditions.  But if you think Repubs are getting rid of the mandate, I want what you're smoking.  

    Oh.  And no jobs will be created, except in India and China.  Certainly not here.  

    None of their 'ideas' lead to improvement of lives of Americans.  

    •  Don't ask the leading question (6+ / 0-)

      unless you intend to answer it. Answer it before they can open their lying mouths and begin spewing drivel (or personal attacks).

      "What are the Republicans going to do to make life better for Americans? Unless you're one of the 1% of Americans who live lives of obscene wealth and excess, they aren't going to do a goddamned thing for you. They're going to expect you to work twice as hard, for less money, for cuts in health benefits and government services, for higher living expenses, all to make sure the 1% gets to keep lolling in their mansions and being waited upon by the rest of us."

      When we understand that the Republicans truly do not give a flying fuck about improving anyone's lives except the Fatcat Few, we will understand how to combat them. They truly want to reduce the rest of us, all 99% of us, to a servile vassal state. Serfs, to borrow the word.

      "That kind of ignorant must hurt." -- Mrs. Max on teabaggers

      by Black Max on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 02:53:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It all depends if the Democrats (7+ / 0-)

    will quit clutching themselves and looking to ever more "compromise" to save them. It's been proven time and again that when Dems stand up to the GOP, the Republicans fold and go back to their whining and carping. The bullying and belligerence comes when Dems do the folding.

    The GOP has given the Dems yet another golden opportunity to cream them: the first thing, the absolutely first fucking thing they did as a Congressional party after the elections was to toss two years of screaming and thundering about "bad government spending" and "belt-tightening" overboard, and give a $1 trillion tax cut to the already-obscenely wealthy.

    Frame it:

    There are approximately 114 million families in the US. The Republicans gave $1 trillion to the wealthiest 37,000 families. The Republicans expect the rest -- all 113,999,963 families -- to work twice as hard to pay for it.

    Simplistic, certainly, but effective, and watch them try to vacillate and explain when you hit them with it. Don't ask leading questions ("Who do the Republicans represent?"), just come out and say it: The Republican Party represents the 37,000 wealthiest families in America. They expect the rest of us to work for the privileged 37,000 so those few can continue to live lives of idle pampering and excess.

    Even if they bellow and squeal that the stats are incorrect ("more than just 37,000 get the tax cuts we fought for!"), they lose that debate once it starts.

    "That kind of ignorant must hurt." -- Mrs. Max on teabaggers

    by Black Max on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 02:49:14 PM PST

  •  Best silver lining of 2010 (11+ / 0-)

    Is that the odious, preening, Asshole Caucus (AKA: The Blue Dogs) got their keisters handed to them, and their little group got decimated.

    I'm sorry, but we're at a point now where if the best Democrat that can get elected is more or less a Republican with a D next to their name, then it's not worth electing that "Democrat".

    We can't have a caucus that is a quarter full of people who will readily vote with the opposition because they are more suited to their ideology than the one of the party they actually get elected to be a part of.

    I realize that we'll probably never (not in this environment anyway) have a caucus full of super progressives or anything, but if "Moderate Democrat" translates into "Blue Dog Backstabbing Traitor" then I don't want them.

    I'll take actual moderates, if any exist, happily. I will not take a Brutus Caucus anymore. It has to end, and hopefully 2010 has opened the eyes of progressive activists to that.

    •  In my opinion (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, Matt Z

      that is the most significant result of the '10 elections.

      The mark of the Blue Dogs wasn't that they were moderates.  The ones that mattered were actual conservatives.  They were getting reelected (many times) in districts that haven't given a national Democrat a majority in 30+ years.  They claimed to stand for the legitimate Democrat(ic) Party, i.e. the pre-1968 version.  Before egghead liberals and brown skinned people hijacked the place, y'know.

      I think we have maybe a dozen such conservatives left in the House and several in the Senate.  They'll lose most of their remaining numbers in '12, possibly the rest in '14.

      This election was probably the final chapter of the Old Democrats.  It's the beginning of the end of the longstanding cultural/generational split or schism in the Party.

      We will see moderate/centrist Democrats elected again, no doubt.  (Democrats should resurge nationally in 2014.)  But they won't have an established right flank of Rightist and center Rightist Blue Dogs to give them cover and actually in search of recruits.  They will be exposed, they will be the right flank and with little incumbency or seniority.  They have to justify their moves to the right fully.

      What this past election means is that we've trimmed almost all Rightism out of the Party.  The last reactionaries (more on social rights than anything else) essentially went out in '94/'96.  The Rightists (mostly on waging wars) mostly departed in '02/'04.  And in '10 we've shed the bulk of the center Rightists (which are about keeping the wealthy in dough).

      At the same time we've been losing the remaining conservative constituencies.  The Northern ethnic working class conservatives are practically gone.  I don't hear much about the tiny pro-Israel Right in the Party anymore (other than Joe Lieberman, that is).  The last Southern white conservatives have walked away.  Conservative-ish black voters seem to be staying in pretty much only for Obama at this point.

      The realignment to ideological divisions and the end of the old ethnic/tribal voter blocs is nearly complete.

      Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt. It is when we are unsure that we are doubly sure. -Reinhold Niebuhr

      by killjoy on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 07:28:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Election Action for 2011 (4+ / 0-)

    Local Elections:cumulative policy makes national policy, and local progressive activists become national ones

    While we should, justifiably, focus a lot of attention on the biggest 2011 elections coming up, we should also give equal attention to the smaller municipal, town and county elections (not to mention the often overlooked but surprisingly important homeowners and condo association elections) that will happen throughout the country this year.

    The first, and most obvious one is that cumulative local change equals large national change. The more elections from condo board to county board that produce actual policies, such as buying renewable energy, recycling, donating to food banks, et cetera, the more we affect real conditions. Local policy creates momentum for state and federal policy.

    Which leads to the next point: those who become civic-minded stay civic minded. The condo owner who votes for a recycling bin today supports county-wide energy savings tomorrow, votes for green state legislators next week, and supports progressive Congressional candidates down the line. Maybe the voter becomes a candidate her/himself.

    Social psychology provides ample proof of this phenomenon. Persuasion psychology pioneer Robert Cialdini conducted a fascinating and much-cited study in which people ramped up their level of commitment for a cause after taking a small action:

    This paper describes part of the study (emphasis added by TGW):

    Consider, for example, the "drive carefully" study. Researchers randomly assigned homeowners in a residential neighborhood to either a control group or an experimental group. A researcher, posing as a "volunteer," asked the homeowners in both groups if they would allow the volunteer to post a gigantic "Drive Carefully" billboard in their front yards. Each homeowner viewed a photo of the billboard demonstrating it was so large it would almost completely obscure the view of the house from the street.

    The only difference between the two groups was that two weeks earlier another "volunteer" had asked the homeowners in the experimental group display a three inch by three inch sign that read "Be a Safe Driver." The subjects in the experimental group, who complied with this seemingly innocuous request, were much more likely to agree to the gigantic billboards in their front yards: seventy-six percent of those in the experimental group versus a mere seventeen percent in the control group agreed to do so."Because they had innocently complied with a trivial safe-driving request a couple of weeks before, those homeowners became remarkably willing to comply with another such request that was massive in size.

    This site adds more information about the experiment:

    Moreover, in a further variant, the residents were first asked to sign a "Keep California Beautiful" petition. Two weeks later, they are asked about placement of the large billboard, and 50% agreed, even though the first request differed in subject (beauty) and action (signing)! The researchers theorized that the first action actually changed way the participants viewed themselves, e.g., "public-spirited citizens" in a way that influenced them to act in accordance with that view in the future .

    Key takeaway: small victories will lead to larger ones, and local elections are not anywhere near as heavy a lift as state or national elections.

    These victories can be on any number of issues, both substantive and symbolic (that is, publicity generating). Policies and attitudes can be changed: town councils can pass resolutions condemning or praising national initiatives; while these do not have the force of law, they have force in the court of public opinion . Every reported resolution against war or bigotry lets other know that there are progressive constituencies to tap.

    You can find local municipal elections by state and county easily enough through Google (I haven't found a comprehensive list yet, sorry

    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

    by TheGrandWazoo on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 02:53:38 PM PST

  •  The GOP may be headed for a train wreck... (7+ / 0-)

    ...but if Democrats don't loudly, clearly, and frequently point that out, the electorate may not pick up on that.  Or, the electorate will buy into the inevitable counter-narrative that both sides wreck the train with equal frequency.

    When you punch enough holes through steerage, the first-class cabins sink with the rest of the ship.

    by Roddy McCorley on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 02:59:00 PM PST

    •  The MSM will work with the Republicans (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wishingwell, esquimaux, Matt Z, TofG

      to convince us that the train wreck we see isn't a wreck at all, but a lovely cruise to the Bahamas. We have to hop on it relentlessly and keep shouting to the heavens about the shit they're pulling. When they start complaining about the "unnecessary attacks" or whatever, they're feeling it. Then you hit them twice as hard.

      "That kind of ignorant must hurt." -- Mrs. Max on teabaggers

      by Black Max on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 03:04:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Caution on Jerry Brown/Whitman (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, Matt Z, bythesea, opticnerver

    I am very happy that Jerry Brown won, but we can't take his victory as evidence that money does't always count.  Brown probably has more name recognition than anyone who has run for CA gov in the last hundred years.  If Whitman had been up against anyone else, she might have won.  Same goes for Fiorina and Boxer.

    To paraphrase Saul Alinsky They Haves got money, the Have-Not's got people.  We eleminate the money advantage when we organize.

    Here are some tools to do so:

    Build Infrastructure:  Volunteer!  List of State and Local Democratic Parties

    Recommended reading/listening/viewing  for radicals:

    The incomparable Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals. Online preview here  

    Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. by Robert Cialdini. This is the single most valuable book I have read on how to persuade and how to avoid being persuaded.

    Don't Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate--The Essential Guide for Progressives, by George Lakoff. See also: Cognitive Policy Wonks and The Progressive Strategy Handbook Project

    Frank Luntz: everything he’s written.  He's a conservative message master, and you have to know the enemy.    Remember the great scene in Patton, when the victorious general shouted: “Rommel! You magnificent son of a bitch!  I READ YOUR BOOK!”

    Making the News: A Guide for Activists and Nonprofits, By Jason Salzman

    The Campaign Manager: Running and Winning Local Elections, By Catherine Shaw

    How To Win A Local Election,by Lawrence Grey

    The Opposition Research Handbook: Guide to Political Investigations

    Guerrilla Marketing

    Chompsky.Info  Many of Noam Chompsky’s insightful and frightening analyses

    Robert Newman’s History of Oil Thanks to GreyHawk for recommending this.
    ***
    To see how the combined direct costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars affects you see the National Priorities Project's costofwar.com and select your state and city.  
    ***

    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

    by TheGrandWazoo on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 03:11:12 PM PST

  •  but but you said (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nippersdad

    But one thing that can often resurrect enthusiasm is creating great villains. Therein lies one lesson of 2010 that the Democrats would do very well to learn.

    But that wouldn't be vary accomodating. Not very bipartisian. Couldn't we negotiate some accomodation on our part? If we did, I'm sure the republicans would meet us half way. Surely they would.

    Teabaggers making the John Birch Society proud!

    by covertaccess on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 03:12:35 PM PST

  •  Said some of this before the election... (4+ / 0-)

    and in typical fashion some attacked that I wanted the Republicans to win.

    But these silver linings will amount to nothing much until Democrats change their ways and find their core identity that has become lost in Republican emulation.

  •  The historical presumption is wrong (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    killjoy, TofG, tberry, CalliopeIrjaPearl

    Historically, the presumption has been that if you win the money game, and you win the air war, you would win the election.

    At least, according to the Freakonomics guys. According to their research, money can only sway about 1 percent of the electorate. It's still difficult to "buy" an election.

    Rather, as Steve Forbes et al have demonstrated is that if you are unlikeable as a candidate, money won't make you charismatic. Jerry Brown is smooth, polished and trustworthy. Whitman is a sadistic harridan.

    The real villain in the 2010 elections is the American uninformed voter, who apparently cast his or her vote on the basis of very shallow thinking, along the line of:

    Well, their side had a turn, let's give the other side a crack at it...

    Now, all those seniors, like the ones in Florida who are going to get a taste of a good, hard, Rick Scott ratfucking, will learn what voting for shitbag republicans means.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

    by The Raven on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 03:15:38 PM PST

    •  Welcome to politics as sports entertainment. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Raven, TofG

      I imagine there has always been an element of this thinking but it has now been institutionalized by our media (who has no clue about working in the public interest - a quaint, pre-Reagan idea).

      The Revolution has already been televised. This is just the mopping up operation.

      by opticnerver on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 03:20:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The money is actually most useful (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Raven

      for candidates in making their own side far more favorable.  Spreading cash around the local party establishment and business establishments and helping along the, er, volunteers with their expenses makes for far greater enthusiasm and exertions and less of the subtle resistance.

      In short, ya gotta pay off the locals that are supposedly already on your side.  It markedly improves efficiency.

      Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt. It is when we are unsure that we are doubly sure. -Reinhold Niebuhr

      by killjoy on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 06:47:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Republican voters (9+ / 0-)

    As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities.
    Voltaire

    "Pardon me, I've got something sanctimonious to do." The Rude Pundit

    by BOHICA on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 03:16:17 PM PST

  •  about the "Trainwreck" (first point) (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tracker, hadrons, here4tehbeer, TofG, tberry

    Here is where I sort of disagree, although I admit it is entertaining to watch the factions of the GOP tear each other up.

    I was a hard-line, Rush-listening republican for many years. Although I never worked for any campaign or gave money, due to my job, I knew every talking point.

    What they will do, almost always, is respect the strongest and fall in line. (See what they did to McCain when he primaried against Bush)

    I do not say this to defend these Neanderthals in any way, but they will close ranks when they need to. They will squash minority movements, even if they have merit. They pretty much own the media now, so the battles they have inside the party won't be covered properly.

    Also, one of their main talking points now is what they call the "implosion" of the left, and they blame progressives for it.

    The real problem with them, is they will do whatever it takes, country be damned, to advance their agenda, and they will continue to cloak it in some twisted cover of patriotism.

  •  No mention for the obvious (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell, Matt Z

    ...we lost Blanche Lincoln and Arlen Specter, as a direct result of 2010?

    Mel Gibson makes movies that look like snuff films shot by Abercrombie & Fitch's photographer. -9.38, -5.18

    by Nulwee on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 03:20:56 PM PST

  •  How does one create great villains (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Willa Rogers
    in a way that is agreeable, though? In a country which must be governed for ALL of the oligarchy, I fail to see how one can disagree agreeably with them. Seems like that strategy has been preemptively taken off the table.
  •  There's one major thing missing here... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TofG

    The GOP's success has more to do with the fact that Obama is black and there are a lot of racists in America that just can't vote for a black man's agenda no matter how intelligent it may be.

    Measure your success not by what you gain, but rather what it cost you to get it.

    by seattledad on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 03:39:49 PM PST

    •  I actually think that's wrong. (0+ / 0-)

      This election was an echo of 1994, in that 2008 was the first time in a long time that conservatives haven't gotten what they wanted.

      While racism is real and measurable, I don't think it's as clear cut as you imply.

      -7.75 -4.67

      "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

      There are no Christians in foxholes.

      by Odysseus on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 08:36:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I was just thinking (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    geez53, TofG
    something similar to this.  We lost a couple of races to wing nuts here in CO where we ran far superior candidates.  What I'm doing, as I hope others are, is keeping track of what the wing nuts do while they are in office.  They should give us plenty of ammunition to beat them after one term.

    I also agree that, on blogs like DKos, we can pool these tales into a composite narrative of what the Republican Party is up to all over the country.

    Our President is teh awesome!

    by GMFORD on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 03:41:25 PM PST

  •  My concern about 2012 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TofG
    is that Sarah Palin will dominate the discussion, and by the time she fades whoever ends up on top will look like a fresh face.

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

    by Bob Love on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 03:52:44 PM PST

  •  Some of the seats we lost were held by bad blue (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, TofG

    dogs, and I think quite a few of those can be recovered by better Dems in 2012.

    They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify our invading Iraq.

    by Ponder Stibbons on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 03:53:36 PM PST

  •  When you cited Kevin Bacon in "Animal House"... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Churchill

    ... I thought for sure the reference you were going for was "Thank you, Sir!  May I have another???"

    I cried when I had no shoes... until I met a man who had no feet. And I said, "Hey, can I have your shoes?"

    by TheWurx on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 03:58:33 PM PST

  •  what about Oregon? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TofG
  •  Call me stupid, but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TofG

    Could it possibly be that Obama sees the train wreck coming too?  And maybe he wants to show this "compromise" to the people and indies so he can take to the bully pulpit and say Yes I did compromise but not now??

    In order the get the people to back him......

  •  excellent analysis, but... (0+ / 0-)

    (there's always a but, isn't there?)...your analysis helps make the November election results less...depressing, for the lack of a better word.
    However, the one most important thing in this year's election results may involve the one thing not mentioned here: unlimited amounts of money to support Republicans going forward.

    Granted, as you said, money isn't everything; however, the Republicans were able to cobble together an effort to take advantage of the corrupt U.S. Supreme Court decision to allow unlimited amounts of corporate money into political campaigns through third-party committees. And, while the Republicans might have had a good election cycle even without that, my guess is that their good year this year wouldn't have been anywhere near as successful as it was if it weren't for the massive amounts of anti-Democratic money from corporations thanks to the five most corrupt members of the U.S. Supreme Court in American history.

    However, what we saw from the Republicans and their corporate "johns" this year is probably nothing compared to what they have planned in the future.
    The massive amounts of money that they were able to gather in the few months between the Citizen's United decision and the November 2010 elections is nothing compared to what they are capable of raising and spending with a long-term, straegically orchestrated effort which they will now be able to develop and implement for future elections.

    My guess is that if you were impressed by how much money corporations were able to unleash at the last minute to aid and abet their co-conspirators in the Republican party, we problably haven't seen anything yet in terms of the amount of money that Republicans will be able to count on in the future.
    And, while money isn't everything, having, say, a massive financial advantage of something on the order of 10-to-1 or better in the future...seems to me like a massive hurdle for Democrats going forward.

    With unlimited amounts of money from corporations now allowed by the most corrupt Supreme Court injustices in American history...it's hard for me to see how Democrats stand much of a chance for winning any national election campaign in the foreseeable future, unless something happens to overturn this outrage abuse of political power by the Supreme Court.

  •  ah (0+ / 0-)

    "Getting 63 House seats and a half-dozen Senate seats shot out from under you is nothing that can be minimized, especially when those losses are married with literally hundreds of state legislative seats that also switched hand"

    And then on que you do just that.

  •  just think (0+ / 0-)

    If half of us who sat on our asses had gotten off our asses this last election-we could very well not be in this situation.BUT NOOOOOO!Baby only got one scoop of ice cream instead of two so we crawl into a corner and stomp our feet.

  •  Washington culture will change them (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus

    Rand Paul has already sold out. He's going to be indistinguishable from an ordinary establishment Republican before the first recess.  I'll stock up on popcorn in 2012 if Palin actually runs, but I think Rove & Co. will have gotten her out of the way by then.  The Republican Civil War might be no more than a bumpy readjustment as they all move farther to the right. I worry more about the rightward motion of our own party. The great villains we create might have to come in the primary season.

    It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness - Eleanor Roosevelt

    by Fish in Illinois on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 06:45:38 PM PST

  •  BS (0+ / 0-)

    Democrats are too busy looking for the boogeyman rather than dealing with reality or looking at themselves in the mirror.

  •  Not to Mention the Off-Yearness (0+ / 0-)

    Not to mention the off-yearness of the election. The Republicans had a great election in an off year. This is a time when the vast hordes don't turn out to vote.

    Let's be glad they got their bounce this year instead of two years from now. There's every reason to believe the pendulum will be in advance at that time and we might well see Democrats come roaring back then.

    No one will gainsay me for at least two years!

  •  Money (0+ / 0-)

    Unlike Sports teams where you also make money-Politics more resembles Poker where if you don't win you have nothing to show for it. Whitman's flop has already had one casualty that of Michael Bloomberg who wants a 3RD Party Run but now won't do it himself(or with much of his money). National Politics is much like the BCS- if your out of the Eastern or Central time zone you don't count. The Civil War was won from West to East so there's no reason to believe that this time it won't be similar.

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