November 3, 2010

The Republican conservative tsunami - what went wrong?

Alright, this was a good night for Republicans and conservatives in general.  There's no need for Monday Morning Wednesday afternoon quarterbacking. But some things did not break as they had been expected to break.  Prior to the election I predicted for the GOP a gain of 61seats in Congress, a total of 34 governors (a gain of 9) and a gain of 9 seats in the Senate.  According to the latest USA Today numbers, it looks like this; The GOP picked up 60 seats in Congress (with 11 seats pending), 5 Senate seats with two still not projected  and 4 governorships (for a total of 29) with 4 seats pending (although no matter how it turns out at least Alaska will end up as some form of Republican).

That's a great day for the GOP, no? A lot of Republicans and conservatives are happy, and indeed the gains were great enough to deny President Obama two more years of ultra-liberal agenda.  That's all good.  But what about what was left on the table?  Setting aside the argument about whether Christine O'Donnell was a good choice for Delaware, there were a number of missed opportunities.


-Harry Reid is still a Senator.  This was moving in Angle's direction?  What happened?
-Colorado, Washington and Alaska are still uncalled in the Senate. None of the Tea Party/Republicans are in a commanding position in those races.  If Republicans Ken Buck, Dino Rossi and Joe Miller win, they will all be com-from-behind victories. All of those are under-performers.
-Best case in those numbers for governor is 33 governorships, worst case is 29.  Given the supposed swing in generic ballot support towards the GOP, and the expected late-breaking momentum, the GOP governors underperformed.
-there were mentions of 70+ Congressional pick-ups for the GOP before the polls started closing, including on Fox.  That didn't happen.  Was there a last minute bit of buyers remorse on the Republicans?  Was the Democrat turnout machine working better than was reported? 

After all the exuberance perhaps expectations for the GOP were inflated.  Perhaps the anti-Obama emotions didn't translate to some races that were successfully localized.  Perhaps I'm being just a little too glass-half-emptyon a day where conservatives should be breathing a sigh of relief.  Perhaps that's all true.  But I think more can be learned from a defeat than from a victory.  Once everything is fully settled, there are things that can be learned from this with respect to both campaigning and to candidate selection.  That's no knock on the Tea Party.  They did what they had to do and they won.

But that doesn't mean some things didn't go wrong.  Those are the things conservatives, Republicans and Tea Party patriots should be looking at for next time. 2010 was a stepping stone - the big prize is in 2012, and that race starts today.  The best place to start is always looking to see how you can do better next time.

In this case that means two things;

(1) How did the campaigning fail/come up short?
(2) What does the GOP need to do in the next 24 months to ensure a win in 2012?

I'll try to look at the latter question soon.

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