Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Fat Lady has sung -- loudly.

The Fat Lady has sung and no doubt King George is covering his ears and telling himself, “It didn’t really happen, It didn’t really happen.” But the reality is that George Bush’s destructive policies and betrayal of core Republican principles have taken the Republican Party from a very strong, dominant position in American politics to a stinging defeat. The Republicans earned their defeats fair and square.

In my pre-election predictions I said the Democrats “can gain up to 30 seats in the House.” I thought up to 25 was an extremely safe bet but that taking it up to 30 would be harder to do but possible. With about a dozen and a half races still to be called the Democrats have picked up either 26 or 28 seats depending on who you believe. With 435 races it is a bit difficult to keep track of. But unless something odd happens my predictions here were pretty much right on the money.

It is very close in Connecticut District 2 where the Democrat has a lead of just over 200 votes. In Pennsylvania 8 the Democrat challenger is ahead by just over 1, 500 votes; in North Carolina 8 the incumbent Republican is ahead by just over 400; and in Wyoming the Republican incumbent has a lead of 810. But the 26 to 28 Democratic seat advantage is safe.

Races that were of interest include Indiana where the Republicans lost three seats. Indiana is supposed to be firm Republican territory. Various commentators have noted that in jumping into bed with the theocrats the Republicans were alienating more libertarian leaning voters. District 9 showed that. The Republican incumbent managed 46% to the Democrats 49% while Libertarian Eric Schansberg took 5%, more than the margin of victory.

Libertarians were also watching some races in Texas though it was unrealistic to assume that an LP candidate would pick up any seats. Ron Paul, a Republican with some libertarian sentiments (not as many as he used to have) won his race easily. But this will be his last turn and with the way he has shifted to placate the anti-immigration Right it may not be a bad thing for him retire.

In District 22, Tom DeLay’s old seat, the Republicans screwed up by not getting a candidate on the ballot and were forced to run a write-in candidate. The Democrat coasted to a relatively easy victory. The Libertarian, Smithers, tried to run a campaign appealing to conservatives and placed himself as the only “conservative” alternative actually on the ballot. He only managed 6% of the vote.

Michael Badnarik is going to have some explaining to do to his Libertarian supporters. He presented himself as a candidate who had a real chance of victory. I heard him doing this myself on one occasion. His campaign sucked in well over $300,000 in donations but he managed only 4% of the vote. Considering that Libertarian candidates without much funding were pulling 2% to 3% of the vote that extra one or two percent is pathetic especially at the cost of $300,000 plus. At a cost of upwards of $45 per vote an awful lot of money went down the toilet.

And the Foley effect is over in Florida. In District 16 to vote for the Republican Negron one had to vote for Mark Foley. I didn’t think enough voters would do that and they didn’t. It was another gain for the Democrats. It is disappointing that Frank Gonzalez in District 21 had almost no support financially. He was the most decent Democrat running. He still managed 41% of the vote however. He is a man we could have used in DC.

Now for the Senate. My prediction was that the Democrats “are picking up five for sure. The one seat that is still in doubt is the race in Virginia.” I said if the Democrats win in Virginia they will have 51 seats in the Senate. Currently the Senate is split 49 to 49. But the two close races that remain outstanding are both leaning to the Democrats. The closet is the Virginia race and Democrat Webb is ahead by about 8,000 votes.

The other close race, but not as close, is Montana where the Democrat is leading by 4,000 votes but with a much smaller voting population. The Libertarian Jones is making up the margin of difference so he may have provided the margin for a Democratic victory. At least that is good considering his embarrassing rant about 9/11 conspiracies during the Senate debate.

My predictions regarding the Senate are headed for 100% accuracy. But remember that I also believe there is a fair chance, not 100% certainty, that Lieberman will defect to the Republicans. He is very much hungry for power and prestige. He says he’ll caucus with the Democrats but he would also like to take a run for the presidency and the Democrats won’t have him. (Neither would I.) If he defects he gives the Senate to the Republicans and can make a run in 2008 for the presidency as a Republican and still have a Senate seat to fall back on. Since Lieberman presents himself as a “moral values” type of guy don’t expect him to keep his word and stay with the Democrats.

In regard to the numerous races for state governor I predicted that the pre-election balance of 28 Republicans to 22 Democrats “to reverse itself” leaving the Democrats with 28 seats and the Republicans with 22. And that appears to 100% correct.
One comment regarding the Florida race for governor. Republican Crist won as was expected. But if the Republicans think their hypocritical views regarding gays are over they are sadly mistaken. The GOP still has some closet doors that may be yanked opened in Florida yet.

The initiatives on the ballots are a mixed bag. In regards to the anti-marriage initiatives put forward by the Republicans most passed but not by the margins they expected or received in the past except in the hopeless Bible-belt South. (The Civil War comes back to haunt America but its not too late to get rid of them.) In the Goldwater state of Arizona voters rejected the ban on same-sex marriage. In South Dakota the ban pass but a swing of just 2 points would have changed things. In Colorado the ban has 56% support even though one of its major proponents was secretly gay himself.

Theopublicans in South Dakota passed a law to totally ban abortion in the state but the matter was put to the voters by initiative. And the voters of South Dakota rejected that ban. If an award went out to the most libertarian state in terms of results for this election then South Dakota would win. They rejected the ban on abortion, they came very close to rejecting the ban on same-sex marriage and they came equally as close to legalizing medical marijuana. The Free State Project may well have picked the wrong state.

So why didn’t the Goldwater state get this honor if they rejected the marriage ban? State initiatives which reduced freedom were successful. The xenophobic Right pushed several measures against immigrants who don’t have bureaucratic permission to live in the US. These anti-libertarian measures passed. They raised cigarette taxes, banned smoking in public places, raised the minimum wage and other such Nanny-statist ideas. So their defense of freedom was rather limited in nature. And the margins for these successful intrusive measures were not small either.

So how bad is it for the Republicans? Well consider this. They were the majority party in the Senate, the majority party in the House of Representatives, and held the majority of gubernatorial seats as well. They lost the Senate, they lost the House, and they lost they advantaged with the governors. This is stinging rebuke.

The Republicans embraced theocratic, big government and the voters chastised them. The Democrats, however, won’t be too bright. Nor are they demonstrably better than the Republicans except for the fact they aren’t dominated by theocrats. Voters did turn out to put Democrats into office. They turned out to remove Republicans from office. I would like to believe that the nightmare in America is over and in one sense the stinging rebuke of the Theopublicans is something to rejoice over. But the victory of Nanny-statist Democrats is not going to be pleasant and I expect the radical elements in the Democrats to attempt to reassert themselves with lots of bad regulations and taxes. That will pave the way for a Republica resurgence. The big question is whether the Republicans have learned their lesson and repudiate the vile theocrats or not.