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Some Implications

First thoughts.

8:18 AM, Nov 3, 2010 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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1. Nancy Pelosi will presumably step down as Democratic leader in the House. Steny Hoyer could be challenged from the left as he seeks to move up to replace her, and he could lose--partly because the defeat of Democrats in swing districts throughout the country yesterday will move the House Democratic caucus to the left.

Some Implications

 2. Along these lines: I haven't had a chance to do the math, but I bet the Democratic caucus now has a higher percentage of antiwar members than before--and President Obama had already lost a majority of his party in the House on the war. So if Obama intends to stay the course in Afghanistan, as I think he does, he'll do so with GOP support in Congress.

3. Speaking of Afghanistan: Russ Feingold, now freed of his Senate responsibilities, is liberated to consider a Gene McCarthy-like run against the president in the 2012 primaries on an end-the-war platform--pre-empting Howard Dean, who is undoubtedly also considering such an effort.

4. Over in the Senate, Harry Reid remains as Majority Leader. Chuck Schumer, who was anticipating replacing him as Democratic leader after Reid's presumed loss, should be kept away from sharp objects for the next few days. 

5. Republicans have taken over the House, and by the largest margin they've had in over 60 years. With Democrats keeping control of the Senate, probably with a 52- or 53-seat majority, this means that the center of GOP gravity in Washington resides in the House. Speaker John Boehner will be the GOP leader in Washington. A lot will depend on his skills in confronting (and sometimes working with) the president, and also in managing his own GOP conference, almost a third of whose members will be newly elected, and many of whom will be at odds with the old bulls. Boehner will allow and encourage Budget Chairman Paul Ryan to be the most important Republican voice in articulating the GOP view of the size and scope of government, as contrasted with that of the Obama administration.

6. Reports are that Mike Pence will step down as House GOP Conference Chairman, presumably to explore a presidential run. Sarah Palin recently seemed to suggest she'd be as happy supporting a strong conservative candidate as running herself; Pence may test that proposition.

7. Not all new members are created equal. To win a Senate seat in a big swing state is impressive--so Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania will command attention. To win by a big margin, or to beat an entrenched incumbent, is even better--so welcome Rob Portman of Ohio and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. To get almost 50% of the vote against two opponents, one of whom is the sitting governor of the state, the other a well-thought of congressman, is pretty remarkable--so say hello to Florida's Marco Rubio, last night's star.

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