Concerning the election results last night, a few observations:
1. The Republican takeover of the Senate represents a crushing repudiation of Barack Obama and Harry Reid. As I watched the calls in the Senate races via Twitter — Republican holds by crushing margins in supposedly competitive races in Kentucky, Georgia, and Kansas; Republican pickups in North Carolina (narrowly, against the odds), and in Arkansas, Iowa and Colorado in supposedly competitive races by substantial margins, along with the expected pickups in West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana — I thought the outcome represented a Republican earthquake in the Senate comparable to 2010 in the House.
2. By contrast with the GOP Senate candidates of 2010 who lost winnable races, the quality of the Republican candidates in these states ranged from good (Thom Tillis) to excellent (Cory Gardner) and superstar (Tom Cotton, Joni Ernst). In West Virginia (Shelley Moore Capito), South Dakota (Mike Rounds), and Montana (Steve Daines), where the Republicans picked up seats as predicted, the Republican candidates were uniformly excellent. I think Dan Sullivan (excellent) has also prevailed in his race to unseat Democratic incumbent Mark Begich in Alaska, though Begich has yet to concede and the race has yet to be called, and Bill Cassidy (excellent) will prevail over Mary Landrieu in next month’s runoff in Louisiana. The Republicans have picked up 7 seats and hold the prospect of picking up 9.
3. We first got to know Tom Cotton via email correspondence in 2006 and have since met up with him several times. Tom is one of the most outstanding men I have ever met. Having abandoned a law practice to enlist in the Army following 9/11, Tom qualified as a Ranger and served combat tours as an officer in Iraq and then Afghanistan. He is a young man of impeccable character who is a natural leader; he has important contributions to make for a long time to come.
4. Watching Cory Gardner from afar, I have been impressed by his intelligence, his poise and his ebullience. He was impossible to dislike; he did not take a false step. It seems to me that, like Ronald Reagan, he’s got it. The young Republican Ben Sasse was expected to win the race to succeed Mike Johanns in Nebraska, and he did. In June 2013, the Weekly Standard’s Mark Hemingway had him scoped out as “A virtuoso pol from Nebraska” (though the headline put a question mark on the observation). A university president and only 42 years old, he also represents hope for the future.
5. It has already become a cliche to observe that Democrats lost the phony war on women. I will only go so far as to say they lost it this time around. It will be back, but Mark “Uterus” Udall is Exhibit A for the proposition this year and Shelly Moore Capito and Joni Ernst put an exclamation point on the proposition last night.
6. Enhancing their majority in the House, Republicans are projected to pick up 12 seats at the moment. Their House majority takes them to a new high-water mark in the post-World War II era. It seems to me that this highlights the crushing nature of last night’s results. We salute Power Line Picks Alex Mooney in West Virginia, Elise Stefanik in New York and Mia Love in Utah, terrific candidates all. Stefanik cruised to victory as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
7. Speaking of exclamation points, the success of threatened Republican incumbents in Maine (Paul LePage), Florida (Rick Scott), Michigan (Rick Snyder), Wisconsin (great Scott!), and Kansas (Sam Brownback) adds another one. The success of Republican challengers in Democratic strongholds — Charlie Baker in Massachusetts, Larry Hogan in Maryland and Bruce Rauner in Illinois — puts a third exclamation point on Republican victories last night. All three have business backgrounds. All three have huge executive challenges before them.
8. Scott Walker has now won three elections (including one recall election) in four years. The Democratic thugocracy has thrown everything they have in their arsenal at him. He has compiled a record of substantial achievement. He has also kept his cool and stood in there like a man.
9. John Kasich’s crushing election to a second term in Ohio also deserves special mention.
10. Minnesota is a big honking disaster with one silver lining. The obviously impaired Mark Dayton won his race for reelection as governor; Al Franken won reelection to the Senate. Silver lining: Republicans appear to have retaken a majority in the Minnesota House. Dayton won’t have a free hand for the next couple of years, but he did so much damage in his first four years that I don’t take much comfort from it.
11. Our friend John Kline handily won his race for reelection in Minnesota’s Second District, in which both John Hinderaker and I live. Did Bill Maher really spend a million bucks to support John Kline’s opponent, as Maher vowed? I didn’t see any evidence that he did. Republican Tom Emmer handily won the race to succeed Michele Bachmann in Minnesota’s Sixth District and thus held the seat for the GOP. Power Line Pick Stewart Mills narrowly lost his race to unseat the Democrats’ Weekend at Bernie’s incumbent Rick Nolan in Minnesota’s Eighth District. The Democrats spent millions in stupid ads to pull it out for Nolan. Republican Torrey Westrom ran an improbably strong race against long-time Democratic incumbent Collin Peterson in Minnesota’s Seventh District. I hope Stewart and Torrey will stick with it. We badly need them to help get the Republican Party off the mat in Minnesota.
12. A few races that got away really hurt. Scott Brown ran a good race against incumbent Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire. Brown couldn’t quite pull it out. Marilinda Garcia also lost a close race, this one for Congress in New Hampshire’s Second District. I hope she will be back. Tom Foley trails incumbent Democrat Dan Malloy in a race that has yet to be called for governor in solidly Democratic Connecticut.
13. Bill Kristol repeatedly made the case that the impressive Ed Gillespie could knock off incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Warner in Virginia. Bill was right; Ed could have won it. This morning it appears that Ed lost the race by the narrowest of margins to the putatively invulnerable Warner. I think Bill’s Kristol ball is worthy of note.
In the spirit of the literary journal Notes & Queries, I end with one query. How many competitive races in which Bill and Hillary Clinton stumped did their candidates win? I’d like to see someone crunch that number this morning.
CORRECTION: In the spirit of the day, I have performed a recount of my points and corrected the number from 12 to 13.