MIDTERM ELECTIONS 2010:
By Bonnie K. Goodman
Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.
- Live Blogging Election Night – NYT, The Caucus, 11-2-10
- Midterm elections live blog 2010 – Yahoo News, 11-2-10
- Michael Bennet (D) defeats Ken Buck (R) in Colorado Senate race: Incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet has beaten his tea-party-backed challenger, Republican Ken Buck, according to the Associated Press.
- Washington, Colorado, Alaska Senate races: When will we know who won?: The Colorado, Washington State, and Alaska Senate races are undecided on Wednesday morning. They won’t tip the balance of power in the Senate, but two are important to Democrats…. – CS Monitor, 11-3-10
- Write-in ballots lead in Alaska Senate race: The Alaska Senate race was headed for another nailbiter in the rematch between Sen. Lisa Murkowski and tea party favorite Joe Miller as supporters from both sides prepared Wednesday for a potentially prolonged ballot count…. – AP, 11-3-10
Senate: D 51 – R 46
House: D 184 – R 240
Governor: D 16 – R 29 – I 1
NYT: House Map
THE HEADLINES….MIDTERM ELECTIONS 2010
- G.O.P Captures House, but Falls Short in Senate: “Republicans captured control of the House of Representatives on Tuesday and expanded their voice in the Senate, riding a wave of voter discontent as they dealt a setback to President Obama just two years after his triumphal victory,” writes Jeff Zeleny…. – New York Times
- Republicans capture control of House; Dems to retain Senate: “Just four years after surrendering power, Republicans recaptured control of the House and made gains in the Senate on Tuesday night, in a major rebuff of President Obama and the Democrats by an electorate worried about the economy and the size of the government,” writes Dan Balz…. – Washington Post
- GOP Wins House in Huge Swing: “Republicans won control of the House of Representatives as voters dealt a stiff rebuke to President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party in a historic wave that swept the GOP to power in states and districts across the country,” write Laura Meckler and Jonathan Weisman…. – Wall Street Journal
- Republicans win House, Democrats retain Senate: “Republicans, tapping into widespread anger over the ailing economy and disappointment with President Obama’s leadership, wrested control of the House of Representatives from Democrats in Tuesday’s midterm elections, but fell just short of winning the Senate,” writes Douglas Stanglin…. – USA Today
- Republicans promise limited government: Emboldened by a commanding House majority and Senate gains, Republican leaders vowed Wednesday to roll back the size of government and, in time, the nation’s sweeping health care law. President Barack Obama, reflective after his party’s drubbing, accepted blame for failing to deliver the economic security Americans demand while saying of his health overhaul: “This was the right thing to do.” He called the election a “shellacking.”
After two years with fellow Democrats leading Congress, Obama now must deal for the rest of his term with the jarring reality of Republican control of the House, a diminished Democratic majority in the Senate and a new flock of lawmakers sworn to downsize government at every chance.
The capital awoke — if it ever slept — to a new political order. With their lopsided win, Republicans are ushering in a new era of divided government and dethroning Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a prime target of their campaign…. – AP, 11-3-10
- Obama signals compromise with GOP on tax cuts: A chastened President Barack Obama signaled a willingness to compromise with Republicans on tax cuts and energy policy Wednesday, one day after his party lost control of the House and suffered deep Senate losses in midterm elections. Obama ruefully called the Republican victories “a shellacking.”
At a White House news conference, the president said that when Congress returns, “my goal is to make sure we don’t have a huge spike in taxes for middle class families.” He made no mention of his campaign-long insistence that tax cuts be permitted to expire on upper-income families, a position he said would avoid swelling the deficit but put him in conflict with Republicans.
He also virtually abandoned his legislation — hopelessly stalled in the Senate — featuring economic incentives to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, vehicles and other sources. “I’m going to be looking for other means of addressing this problem,” he said. “Cap and trade was just one way of skinning the cat,” he said, strongly implying there will be others…. – AP, 11-3-10
- G.O.P. Leaders Vow to Repeal Health Care Law: At a news conference at the Capitol, the likely House speaker, Representative John A. Boehner, and the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, invited President Obama to work with them on these and other goals. But they also quickly adopted an aggressive posture on some issues certain to antagonize Democrats, including a vow to repeal the big new health care law.
Mr. Obama, at his own news conference in the East Room of the White House, called the election results “humbling,” but he also attributed the far-reaching Republican victories largely to the public’s frustration over the slow economic recovery. “What they were expressing great frustration about is that we haven’t made enough progress on the economy,” he said.
The president said he was “eager to hear good ideas wherever they come from” and expressed a willingness to work with Republicans. “We must find common ground,” he said, “in order to make progress on some uncommonly difficult challenges.” And he cited energy and education as two policy areas on which Republicans and Democrats could see eye to eye…. – NYT, 11-3-10
- Obama Takes Responsibility for Voter Frustration: “Some election nights are more fun than others,” he told reporters in the East Room of the White House. “Some are exhilarating. Some are humbling.” He said that he had to take “direct responsibility” for the failure to repair the nation’s economic fortunes. But in his opening remarks and answers to early questions, Mr. Obama refused to say that the Republican wave that swept across the country was a fundamental rejection of his administration’s policies.
“There is no doubt that people’s No. 1 concern is the economy,” he said. “What they were expressing great frustration about is that we haven’t made enough progress on the economy.” The president repeatedly said that he wanted to work with the newly empowered Republicans in Washington. But he also said more than once that there were some principles that both parties were going to be unwilling to compromise on…. – NYT, 11-3-10
- House leaders begin outlining priorities: Republicans on Wednesday pointed to their House takeover as a mandate to “change course” on economic policy and key elements of President Obama’s agenda, including the health care overhaul he pushed through Congress this year…. – USA Today, 11-3-10
- Pelosi Election Results: What It Mean’s for Health Care Champion: Nancy Pelosi may not have been up for election Tuesday night, but many Republicans felt her ideas were, chief amongst them strong support for Obama’s health care plan. Several big ticket conservatives as well as new members of Congress have pledged to roll back key pieces of Obamacare or repeal it entirely…. – CBS News, 11-3-10
- Sarah Palin The Mama Grizzly Scorecard: She didn’t appear on any ballot yet one big question of the Tuesday night election was how well did Sarah Palin do? Palin will point to a positive win-loss record—49 of her 77 candidates triumphed, (6 races had yet to be called by Wednesday morning.) But many of the highest-profile races, where she had loudly interjected herself, her candidates— Sharron Angle in Nevada, Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, and John Raese in West Virginia—lost.
Even in her home state of Alaska, her help seems to have been less than helpful. Joe Miller, the GOP candidate and Palin protégée, ended up having to fight off the write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski, and even a last-minute bit of McMentum—when Democratic candidate, Scott McAdams suddenly seemed to rally. By late Tuesday night, that race had still not been called, but Murkowski was leading.
If there was a silver lining for the former Alaska Governor, it came in the form of Nikki Haley in South Carolina, Susana Martinez in New Mexico, and Mary Fallin in Oklahoma—the first time women won governorships in those three states.
The election may have been a vote on Obama and the Democrats. But for many watching, the most widely anticipated other referendum was how well Palin would do. Of her 77 candidates around the nation, 20 are women—in the Palin vernacular, her Mama Grizzlies who, she had predicted, would “rise up on their hind legs.”… – The Daily Beast, 11-3-10
- Tea party-backed Rick Scott claims Fla. governor win: Tea party-backed Republican businessman Rick Scott, who ran as an outsider vowing to shake up the political establishment, claimed victory Wednesday as Florida’s next governor after Democrat Alex Sink conceded an extremely tight race…. – AP, 11-3-10
- California Climate Law Survives Challenge at Polls: The defeat of Proposition 23 marked a big victory for Silicon Valley investors, who poured millions of dollars into defending California’s AB 32 law and protecting their massive investments in green technologies ranging from solar power to electric cars. – Reuters, 11-3-10
- Boehner wants Bush tax cuts extended for all: U.S. House of Representatives Republican leader John Boehner said on Wednesday that extending the Bush tax cuts for all income groups is the right policy…. – Reuters, 11-3-10
- Lengthy to-do list awaits lame duck session: Now that the elections are over, a lame-duck Congress comes back to work this month to deal with a pile of unfinished business: whether to extend Bush-era tax cuts due to expire, give seniors a $250 Social Security special payment and repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy against gays serving openly. It’s an open question how much they’ll get done. The current Congress returns Nov. 15 for a post-election session dominated by tax and spending issues. Rarely has such a big pile of work faced lawmakers when the party in power has suffered so much at the ballot box…. – AP, 11-3-10
President Obama took a question from a reporter during a news conference at the White House on Wednesday.
- President Barack Obama, Press Conference: “I’ve got to do a better job,” he said, “like everybody else in Washington.” And he took responsibility for not doing enough to alter the ways of the capital, whether its hyper-partisanship or back-room dealing. “We were in such a hurry to get things done that we didn’t change how things were done.”
President Obama: ‘I’ve Got to Do a Better Job’
Boehner, McConnell Preview GOP Agenda for Next Congress
- Ohio Rep. John Boehner, the speaker-in-waiting: “Change course we will,” describing the outcome as a clear mandate to shrink the government. That echoed the unrelenting demand of tea party activists whose energy and votes helped to fuel the largest turnover in the House in more than 70 years.
“I think it is important for us to lay the groundwork before we begin to repeal this monstrosity,” Boehner said.
- Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, No. 2 Republican in the House: “We’ve been given a second chance and a golden opportunity.” But, he added, “People want to see results.”
- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who survived a tea party challenge in Nevada: “I’m ready for some tweaking” on the health care law but would fight its repeal.
“If we need to work something out with the people who are really rich, I’ll have to look at that,” he said. “If there’s some tweaking we need to do with the health care bill, I’m ready for some tweaking. But I’m not going to in any way denigrate the great work we did as a country, and saving America from bankruptcy because of the insurance industry bankrupting us.”
- Sarah Palin via Twitter: “As always, proud to be American! Thanks, Commonsense Constitutional Conservatives, u didn’t sit down & shut up…u “refudiated” extreme left”—so tweeted Sarah Palin on Election Night, demonstrating characteristic optimism in the face of what was decidedly a mixed bag for her politically…. Palin tweeted on Tuesday about the media, and specifically the Today Show: “Silly fellas! Chucky, remember, I’m not on ballot.”
- Rick Scott FLA Gov (R): “There were plenty of pundits, politicians and insiders who said this victory was impossible. But the people of Florida knew exactly what they wanted. They sent a message loud and clear: they said, let’s get to work.”
- Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, who is poised to become the new speaker of the House: “Americans have sent an unmistakable message … tonight, and that message is: Change course.” Boehner acknowledged that his party’s ability to set the nation’s path will be limited with Democrats still in power in the Senate and the White House. “It’s the president who sets the agenda for our government,” he said…. “The American people were concerned about the government takeover of health care,” he said. “I think it’s important for us to lay the groundwork before we begin to repeal this monstrosity.”
- Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., in line to take over as House majority leader, said the driving issue in his party’s success was the economy: “Jobs first,” he said in describing the GOP’s priorities. Rolling back Obama’s health care initiative also will be a goal, he said. “There’s no question, last night indicated again that the majority of Americans want to see the repeal of Obamacare.”… “I hope that we’re able to put a repeal bill on the floor right away because that’s what the American people want,” he said Tuesday night. “They understand that this bill is going to bankrupt this country and take away the health care that they — most people in this country — know and like.”
HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS
- Michael Beschloss: Historian Predicts Obama Will Be Reelected Despite Midterm Election Results (VIDEO): ‘The Daily Show’ (weeknights, 11PM ET on COM) partnered with ‘The Colbert Report’ for ‘Indecision 2010′ on election night, offering viewers live coverage of the midterm results. Jon Stewart noted that it’s standard practice for the nation’s ruling party to “lose some seats” in midterm elections. However, presidential historian Michael Beschloss admitted they don’t usually lose this many seats.
But if history repeats itself, he had some good news for President Obama. “The three presidents in recent times who have had midterm loss like this have been Truman, Eisenhower, Bill Clinton. Every single one of them got reelected.” “So your thought is, ‘What a great night for Barack Obama!’” joked Stewart. – TV Squad, 11-3-10
- Tevi Troy Visiting Senior Fellow, the Hudson Institute, How does Obama explain the GOP landslide?: President Obama has a lot of explaining to do. He came into office with a great deal of goodwill, strong majorities in both houses of Congress, and an opposition party in complete disarray. Less than two years later, the goodwill and the House majority are gone, and Republicans are resurgent. It will not be possible to make complete amends in a single press conference, but he can start by signaling a move to the middle and a willingness to work in a more bipartisan manner…. – Politico
- Julian Zelizer: As the GOP Gains Control of the House, What Does the Party Have to Do? John Boehner Expected to Become Next Speaker of the House: “[Boehner's] first challenge is to control the rebels,” said Julian Zelizer, political analyst and professor of politics at Princeton University. “Some of the ideological division we see will be because of the Tea Party types, but also just because of freshmen determined to show they’re not part of the status quo.”
“The Republicans don’t want to look like a whole cohort of Christine O’Donnell’s came to town,” said Zelizer referring to the losing Tea Party candidate who admitted during the campaign she once dabbled in witchcraft. “Maverick outsiders who are good at attack politics but who are not necessarily politicians who can’t handle the responsibilities of the office.”
“Boehner has to make sure that’s not the image that people are left with in two years,” said Zelizer.
“The GOP really needs to decide whether their strategy is to try to obtain some legislation that their supporters would like or to focus on a strategy on pure obstruction and grandstanding. Both have dangers and benefits,” Zelizer said…. – ABC News, 11-3-10
- Julian E. Zelizer: Is it 1994 all over again?: Republicans effectively gained control over Congress on Tuesday. The GOP won a majority of seats in the House of Representatives, thus overturning the gains Democrats made in 2006 and 2008.
In the Senate, where the procedural power of the minority has already given Republicans the power to shape deliberations, the narrowed Democratic ranks will further weaken the majority.
In the weeks running up to the election, there were some commentators who concluded that the current situation would be the best outcome for President Obama.
Pointing to the example of the 1994 midterms, which gave Republicans control of Congress, they have argued that a bad outcome for Democrats would ironically allow Obama to regain his standing. Obama could use Republicans as a foil to attack extremism — just as Clinton did with Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1995 and 1996 — and he would have political cover and incentives to move closer toward the center, where voters would like him more….
Now, with 2012 over the horizon, the GOP will have more incentives to oppose the president. Indeed, Sen. Mitch McConnell, leader of the Senate Republicans, recently said: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
At the same time, Obama faces a significant risk if he tries to appease Republicans in Clinton-like fashion. After all, many liberals are already frustrated with the kinds of compromises Obama has made. Going too far — for example, declaring that the era of big government is over — could trigger a challenge to the president in the Democratic primaries.
We should hope that the United States is not about to live through a repeat performance of what occurred after 1994. The nation faces too many pressing economic and foreign policy problems to have that happen again. – CNN, 11-3-10
- Paul Green, Roosevelt University political science professor and commentator Election 2010: Will gridlock be election fallout?: “The election really doesn’t make a difference. Everything will be held up. Bipartisanship has become a code word for political treason.” – Daily Journal, 11-3-10
- David Claborn, Olivet Nazarene University associate professor of political science and history Election 2010: Will gridlock be election fallout?: “We voted against a party and a status quo, not necessarily for the people who won. I don’t think the election has given us much of a clue as to what will happen.” – Daily Journal, 11-3-10
- Jacob Weisberg: Faking Right How the Republican Congress will abandon Tea Party ideas and legislate toward the center: In the likely event that Republicans capture control of one or both houses of Congress next week, the new leaders will face a strategic question. Should they pursue the agenda of the Tea Party movement that brought them to power? Or should they try to mollify their party’s base with gestures and symbols, without taking its radical ideology too seriously? While they’ll never discuss this problem honestly, indications point in the latter direction. That is, the GOP’s congressional leadership will feint right while legislating closer to the center.
The choice is between a Ronald Reagan strategy and a Newt Gingrich strategy. Reagan, who first rode a new conservative movement to the presidency in 1980, was a master of the right fake. After one brief and disastrous attempt to reduce Social Security spending in 1981, Reagan never seriously challenged federal spending again. But Reagan sounded so convincing in his rhetorical flights that most conservatives and liberals walk around today thinking that he cut government. Reagan was just as slippery with the religious right, embracing them while wasting little political capital on issues like abortion or school prayer. President George W. Bush followed this same model, humoring the base while letting government expand…. – Slate, 11-3-10