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Election 2010: An Impressionist Take (Corrected)

Random thoughts on the passing scene.

12:17 PM, Nov 3, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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That sound you hear is my muffled cry -- I'm buried under a mound of electoral data! Rather than somehow dredge a theme out of this mess, here are some impressions:

Election 2010: An Impressionist Take (Corrected)

Couldn't Have Happened to a Meaner Guy. I can't be the only man in America who takes personal satisfaction in Alan Grayson's whopping loss to "Taliban Dan" Webster in Florida 8.

Pot Gets Smoked. It was a bad night for Mary Jane. Prop 19 to legalize marijuana in California lost 54-46. And a medical marijuana initiative in South Dakota lost 62-37.

Land of Lincoln swings to the GOP. Big Republican House pickups and a hold in Illinois: Bobby Schilling over Phil Hare, Adam Kinzinger over Debbie Halvorson, Joe Walsh over Melissa Bean, and Bob Dold over Dan Seals to hold Mark Kirk's House seat. And of course Kirk seizing Obama's seat. Roland Burris, we hardly knew ye.

Don't Put This Man in Charge of a Committee!  In 1994, House Democrat Robert Menendez was in charge of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Democrats lost the House. In 2010, Senate Democrat Robert Menendez was in charge of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Democrats lost the House. Note to Democrats: If you want to maintain control of the House, do not put Bob Menendez on any campaign committees!

CORRECTION, November 4: I was wrong: Bob Menendez wasn't chairman of the DCCC in 1994. Vic Fazio of California was chairman. In 1994 Menendez was a freshman congressman from New Jersey. My advice to Democrats still stands, however. I doubt they'll take it.

Goodbye to All That. Incumbency wasn't a lifetime employment plan in 2010. To the contrary. Democratic stalwarts Richard Boucher, John Spratt, Ike Skelton, Paul Kanjorski, Chet Edwards, Gene Taylor, and James Oberstar all lost. And in the "biggest surprise of the night" category, 14-term incumbent Solomon Ortiz appears to have lost his 71 percent Hispanic district to conservative radio talk show host Blake Farenthold.

Bachmann Supreme. The only conservative woman who gets liberals more riled up than Sarah Palin is Michele Bachmann. She barely won reelection in 2008, 46 to 43 percent. She was the Democrats' top target at the beginning of the 2010 cycle. But last night she defeated Tarryl Clark handily, 53 to 40 percent. Bachmann will be around for a while. Get used to it.

The Great Restoration. In a single night, Republicans wiped out Democratic House gains from 2006 and 2008. Democrats made those gains running candidates who promised to govern from the center. But most followed Nancy Pelosi's marching orders instead, and they paid the price.

Republican strength in the South, perhaps the most important region of the country, is astonishing. But GOP gains in the Midwest and Northeast are equally important. And most interesting, to me, is Republican strength in the Orlando suburbs, suburbs throughout Ohio, and the Philadelphia suburbs. If Obama loses the suburbs in 2012 -- and the white independents who live there -- he loses reelection.

House Republicans now have a second chance to correct the mistakes of the Bush era. They no longer have the burdens of an unpopular president of the same party and an unpopular war in Iraq. Corrupt Republicans have been weeded out. Will the GOP seize the opportunity?

P.S. I'll have more commentary in today's TWS newsletter.

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