OK, so it's over
. Rather than either a) stew in our own juices for a while, or b) get mad or self-righteous, or c) blame someone else, such as Ciro Rodriguez or Republican cross-over voters, let's sit down and calmly try and learn from this, and get better.
I'd suggest a couple lessons. First, the progressive netroots, through money and action, is at a state in its development when it can move about 2-5% (I'm estimating) of the vote in any particular race. Strange as it may seem, that's not bad. Many political "movements" would kill for those kinds of numbers. But it is what it is. It's not 10 or 15 percent.
Second, the progressive netroots has a pretty awful record of actually winning races. In fact, I'm not sure we've ever won one at the federal level. Fairly soon, candidates that have been welcoming our support are going to stop doing so, because we have become something of a curse. Or worse (the perception might be that we actually cause more harm than good). We are easily mature enough, in terms of tactics and analysis, to do better than this.
Third, Ciro lost this race for quite a prosaic reason: Not because of raw turnout in either Laredo or San Antonio, but because quite a few of his voters, in his bases, switched and voted for Cuellar. Likely because old Henry provided some constituent service and was visible for the last two years. This made the race essentially unwinnable.
So I would suggest the following: When one of our leaders, Chris or Markos or Jerome or someone, decides he or she wants us to get involved in a race, raise a little money and do a poll. And let's commit, as a movement, to stop focusing entirely on lovable long-shots and Don Quixotes. We may love them, but it is doing WAY too much damage to our reputation and effectiveness to continue down this path. We have a limited, but potentially decisive, ability to affect races. Some races we simply cannot win. To reach that next level, we simply must begin focusing where our efforts can really make the difference.
Interestingly, all political revolutions begin this way, in small steps, when the revolutionaries stop their early charismatic flailing and start thinking strategically about who their allies are, what they can realistically affect, and how to get from point "a" (powerlessness) to point "b" (rescuing our country).
To this end, we need to think very carefully about the following races that are on our radar screens: CA-50, which is tilted very heavily R and which in which several Republican candidates are quite strong; and CT-Sen, which is strikingly similar to TX-28 in that I seriously doubt there exists enough primary voters that would give Lamont the time of day to win it. The definition of insanity is to do the same thing many times and expect a different result. I don't think we're insane.