[Posted by Karl]
In the Internet Age, there is no shortage of punditry on the off-year election results, which makes my task here much easier.
Ed Morrissey nicely addresses the Democratic talking point this was “anti-incumbent” fervor, by pointing out that such disproportionately hurts the majority party, i.e., Democrats. I would add that the new Democrat talking points about how predictable the GOP wins in Virginia and New Jersey were ought to put the rest the old Democrat instant talking points that the 2008 elections marked a political realignment likely to last 40 years. Instead, the results looked like 1993, where a GOP blowout in Virginia and a win in NJ were part of the prelude to a GOP tsunami in 1994.
I always saw the NY-23 race as a sui generis clusterfark, so Hoffman coming up short did not exactly shock me. The “GOP civil war” narrative of the establishment media remains unimpressive, particularly given that ignores the intra-party strife among the Dems. It is even less impressive when the establishment media reports that NY-23 has been Republican since the 1872, which is patently false. Must be all those layers of fact-checking and editing.
Also, while most righties aren’t mentioning the CA-10 House race, I was told by aphrael, who lives in the general vicinity, that no GOPer had broken 35% there since redistricting and that “if the Republican candidate manages to break 40%, everyone will be shocked.” Harmer won 43%.
Any number of pundits noted the shift of Independents to the GOP last night, but Michael Barone (crediting Pat Caddell) notes that affluent suburban voters (a key Obama demo) moved sharply toward Republicans in New Jersey, New York state, Philadelphia, and Virginia. Barone notes that there are probably four House Democrats from Virginia who are more nervous today about marching in lockstep with their party. I would add career pol and Corzine ally Rep. John Adler, who carried NJ-3 by only 51.7% of the vote in 2008, because NJ-3 is looking pretty red right now.
Independents and affluent suburbanites are significant because they are blocs of the Obama coalition that have moved rightward. Other blocs, like young adults and minorities, who simply did not show up. The former are worse for the Dems than the latter, as 2010 is likely to have higher turnout than 2009.
More broadly, the 2009 results were in one sense unremarkable. The greater intensity on the right, the rightward shift of Independents, the dissatisfaction with the way Pres. Obama has handling most major domestic issues — these were all things easily seen in the past few months of public opinion polling. However, their confirmation at the ballot box, the concession speeches, and the headlines even the establishment media cannot avoid reporting, may make the shift in public opinion tangible to the center-left in Congress and the media in a way that dry numbers on a screen did not.