The people have spoken and the House is now in Democratic control with the Senate still being determined. I won't give the entire rundown of all the races, but I do have a few thoughts:
The Democrats Understood the Center. The Dems finally wised up and didn't totally rely on their Moveon.org crowd. The Democrats recruited centrist and even conservative candidates that were able to win in some conservative areas. Republicans would be wise to work on that. One wonders if those liberal Democrats will be able to work with their more centrist and conservative brethren. Related to this is another observation:
The Center matters. Led by Karl Rove, the GOP decided to focus almost exclusively on the socially conservative base and hoping to get enough independents and moderates to win. The Dems have realized that the Center does matter and moderated their message to some extent. The Republicans will have to learn that there is a vital center and they must be reached.
Republicans might want to take a page from the "Terminator." This morning as Republicans wake up to such a loss, they need to look West and take a page from California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Republican governor was elected as a moderate in 2003 and then veered right in 2004-05. Voter referendums backed by the Governor were defeated in 2005, and Scwarzenegger then steered towards the center with initiatives backing a boost in the state's minimum wage and combatting global warming. The result is that he coasted to victory. After this spanking by the public, will the national GOP reach out towards the center? That remains to be seen.
The LA Times right: President Bush is the real loser. This morning's LA Times is correct that the President is the loser today. I agree with them that if there are any plans to move towards the center, it's about six years too late. He went from lame duck to a nearly dead one by ignoring the center being so divisive. You live by the sword, you die by the sword.
Centrist Republicans might be more prominent in the coming years. Maybe. Last night was not a good night for Centrist Republicans. Charlie Bass of New Hampshire, Nancy Johnson of Connecticut and Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island all lost. In many cases, it wasn't because they were bad leaders, but because this was a year that voters were made at a political party and wanted to vote out any Republicans, even those they might have like. Voters wanted change.
That said, again the LA Times thinks that centrist Republicans will step up to leadership in the aftermath of yesterday's election. They write:
The Democrats have captured the House, but the most intriguing power shift in the aftermath of this election may not be from Republicans to Democrats but from Rove's socially conservative base to more centrist GOP leaders. One of the ironies of Tuesday's results is that it increases the leverage of moderate Republicans such as Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. Even as this election claimed so many of their kind, such moderates have the upper hand heading into 2008.
There are those that think the GOP will become more conservative after this defeat (that's my fear), but they might be right. The hard right has been discredited. Maybe this means that the "soft right" that remains will present a more truly conservative agenda that will be a step away from the Karl Rove Republicanism. We shall see.
Some Republicans I'm glad to see go: Don't let the door hit you on the way out:
- Rick Santorum.
- Richard Pombo.
- JD Hayworth.