Wednesday, November 15, 2006

2006 Election Wrap

I’m sleeping better already.

Election Prediction Review:

US House: I predicted that the House would go from 232 Repub/203 Dem to 232 Dem/203 Repub, with the Republicans failing to take any Dem seats. I was correct.

US Senate: I called every race correctly. How unlikely was it that the Democrats would capture the Senate? Here's what one progressive pundit had to say:

"The 2006 Senate map was terrible for us. It's a testament to how bad things have gotten for the GOP that we were able to squeeze out six seats. We had open seats in MN and MD to defend, as well as the NJ seat with a recently appointed incumbent. We had 18 Democratic seats to defend, including in red and purple places like Florida, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Nebraska, North Dakota, and West Virginia. Republicans had only 15 seats to defend, and were only defending Blue states in Rhode Island, Maine, and Pennsylvania.
Virginia looked like it might not have a serious challenger. Ohio, as many of you might recall, almost didn't have a Democratic challenger at all. Early on, few outside the blogs took the possibility of making Montana competitive seriously. Missouri had seen one painful Democratic defeat after another in the 2000's.
This should've been, by all means, a year in which the Republicans made gains. Or, at the very least, held their own. That Rove killed his party's Senate majority by making gambits for New Jersey, Maryland, and Michigan will go down in infamy. Had he spent some of that money earlier on Burns in Montana, we'd probably have a 50-50 Senate today. And they never should've lost Virginia."

Governors: I predicted that the Democrats would pick up the Gov. seats of New York, Ohio, Massachusetts, Colorado, Arkansas, Minnesota and Maryland. I was wrong on Minnesota, where incumbent Gov. Tim Pawlenty defeated Mike Hatch by 21,000 out of more than 2 millions votes cast.

Some more highlights of this election:

The Democrats gained control of 11 state House and Senate chambers, the Republicans none.
The Democrats’ new US House delegation includes 2 Buddhists and 1 Muslim, a first for both faiths.

The Democrats picked up 3 House seats that were not considered to be remotely competitive by the major news organizations. These three miracles occurred in New Hampshire, Iowa, and Kansas, and I have a little story that goes with each one.

Carol Shea-Porter was outspent 5 to 1 in her race against incumbent Republican Jeb Bradley for NH’s 1st district, and she received little support from the Democratic Party. Yet she defeated Bradley 52% to 48% in a sweep that saw the Democrats also take away NH’s 2nd district and capture the state House chamber for the first time since 1922. The total number of Republicans in the US House from New England now stands at one.

In Kansas, Nancy Boyda defeated five-term incumbent Jim Ryun in Kansas’ 2nd district. A former Sports Illustrated “Sportsman of the Year,” Ryun is a fundamentalist Christian, so, um, devout, that he has been known for “speaking in tongues” at campaign rallies. Also defeated in Kansas was Attorney General Phill Kline who has been a lightning rod for Christian conservatives. Some of his more famous accomplishments including subpoenaing the medical records of women who had had abortions for possible prosecution, and forming campaign committees in churches to help himself get reelected.

The icing on the cake was Iowa. In the Governor’s race, Democrat Chet Culver beat Republican Jim Nussle by more than 10%. In the early going of this race, Nussle had very much been expected to win. Nussle was a classic Newt-Gingrich-school hypocrite, having stumbled into a Congressional seat in 1990 campaigning on family values, then dumping his wife for a lobbyist friend.

The Democrats won Nussle’s vacated Congressional seat, and held on easily to the seat in the 3rd district, which was once considered the seat most likely to go Republican this year. The Democrats also captured both the Iowa House and Senate.

Finally, in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes my former home of Iowa City, Professor and anti-war activist David Loebsack defeated 30-year incumbent Republican Jim Leach in the most unlikely, quixotic upset I have ever seen.

Good night, and good luck.

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