Midterms 2010: Some Takeaways

Democrats sustained an expected thumping on election day. With the dust settled, Republicans will take the House with a clear majority, gaining 65 seats, the largest swing since 1948. This is a bigger swing than the historic 1994 elections.

In the Senate, Republicans gained 6 seats. Most seats up for grabs were Republican seats, which limited the amount of potential gains for the GOP (2004 was still a good year for the GOP after all). This marks the first time the House and Senate did not flip together in an election. Of course, in the past, the party in power of the House generally did not lose control after just 4 years.

Obama has blamed the economy for his ills, and there is a lot of truth to it. While popular dissatisfaction to the healthcare bill and a general since of government out of control were major reasons for the GOP vote, the elections seemed more to be a protest vote than anything else. Obama promised the world and more in 2008, and most people fell for it. With 9.5%+ unemployment, slow economic growth, and few hopes for significant job creation in the near-term, people made their grievances shown with a vote.

Here are a few more observations about the election, a few of these I’ll go into further detail in future articles:

1. The Tea Party was a mixed blessing for the GOP. The Tea Party certainly helped bring out the base and without a doubt helped the GOP gain more House seats than it would have otherwise. The ‘Tea Party’ candidates, on the other hand, were a mixed blessing. Tea Party candidates that focused on fiscal issues and had business experience, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul (a successful opthamologist), did well. However, Tea party candidates that were perceived by the general population to be loony social conservatives, Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell, lost. Make no mistake, the GOP could have easily won Nevada (it should have won Nevada) and Delaware had they ran more mainstream GOP members. Furthermore, with Murkowski’s apparent win in Alaska, it seems the GOP embrace of Miller was a mistake.

2. California is hopeless for the GOP. Boxer thumped Fiorina in the Senate race, and Brown handily beat Whitman for governor. This state, despite a 12%+ unemployment, continuous falling house prices, and continuing exodus of business due to liberal policies, still stamped Democrat. Unlike in Nevada/Delaware, the GOP candidates cannot be blamed too much since both were fairly mainstream in their views and have impressive business backgrounds.

Make no mistake: California will likely become the next Detroit over the next 10 years. Their fiscal crisis is about to enter a more critical stage, and we’ll likely see the state degenerate further before it embraces the reforms necessary to put it on a sustainable path.

3. The GOP can stomp the Democrats in 2012 without doing much. If the economy does not get significantly better in the next 2 years and the Republicans do not run a loon for President, we can see a GOP president and 10+ more Senate seats won by the GOP in 2012 (there are far more Democratic Senate seats up for grabs in the 2012 election). The GOP got trounced in 2008 due to the economy, despite the Democrats controlling the House and the Senate. If there is no significant economic turnaround, people will continue to place the blame on the Democrats and vote accordingly (except in California).

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