Republicans took the House in a historic sweep, but failed to take the Senate — or elect rich-lady candidates (Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, Linda McMahon) and sundry crazy people (Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell, Carl Paladino). Here's a complete rundown.
Good: By nominating those ultra-right yahoos, that energized Republican electorate managed to kill the party's chance of taking the Senate — and defeating majority leader Harry Reid. For example, 44 percent of Nevada voters said in an exit poll they found Sharron Angle too conservative. Also, that whole alienating Latino voters thing — turns out it doesn't work!
Bad: An unprecedented pickup of around 60 new seats for the Republicans is giving us a (weepy) new Speaker John Boehner, and ending the reign of Nancy Pelosi. Election night also brought the defeats of liberal icon and Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, and progressives in the House like Tom Perriello. Also, we have a Senator Rand Paul, a Republican, Mark Kirk, in President Obama's old Senate seat, and Pennsylvania going for Republican Pat Toomey in the Senate, as well as a bunch of new Republican governors.
Inconclusive: Colorado's Senate race between Tea Party woman-hater Ken Buck and Michael Bennet has yet to be called, as does Patty Murray's fight for survival in Washington State. We won't know about Alaska's three-way election, and whether Alaskans could spell Murkowski, for awhile, although it's looking good for Murkowski.
Good: Women voters helped reject Linda McMahon. Terri Sewell, first black woman to represent Alabama in Congress, was elected. More openly gay candidates won this year than any other in history, though with the exception of Rhode Island mayor David Cicilline becoming the fourth openly gay congressman, they were mostly local candidates. Colorado's Personhood Amendment failed by roughly the same margin as it did before, 3-1.
Bad: Those are pretty micro victories. There was a net decrease in number of women in Congress, because so many Democrats lost, and most Congresswomen were Democrats. Also, the Iowa judges who ruled in favor of gay marriage were trounced.
Inconclusive: Sarah Palin had a mixed track record last night on her alleged Mama Grizzlies. Her endorsements helped elect the first female governors of South Carolina (Nikki Haley) and New Mexico (Susana Martinez), as well as Senator-elect Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire. Not so much with O'Donnell and Angle. (Marco Rubio was elected in Florida and Paul in Kentucky, but each already had strong followings of their own.) This means we keep having to hear about Palin without really knowing whether she actually matters.
Bad: The current formula in Congress is basically antithetical to getting anything done — on anyone's agenda. As Ezra Klein put it,
Republicans don't fully control Congress, so they don't have enough power to be blamed for legislative outcomes. But Democrats don't control the House and they don't have a near-filibuster proof majority in the Senate, so they can't pass legislation. Republicans, in other words, are not left with the burden of governance, and Democrats are not left with the power to govern. Republicans don't have to be responsible, and Democrats can't do it for them.
Plus, the legislative agenda may or may not be hobbled by a round of subpoenas and investigations launched by the Republicans. (Of what? They'll come up with something.)
According to The Times, it was "the most expensive midterm election campaign in the nation's history, fueled by a raft of contributions from outside interest groups and millions in donations to candidates in both parties." Democrats were unable to increase turnout as they did in 2008, and new Republican state legislatures are expected to redistrict like mad to keep that House majority. Hooray for democracy.
Update: The Colorado Senate race has been called for Bennet.
GOP Captures House, But Falls Short In Senate [NYT]
Welcome To Gridlocked America [Wonkbook/WP]
Mama Grizzly Scorecard [The Daily Beast]
Iowans Dismiss Three Justices [Des Moines Register]
Personhood Amendment Fails By 3-1 Margin [Denver Post]
Blumenthal Beats McMahon; Women Doomed Her [New Haven Independent]