An amazing night. I was up until about midnight watching the results, but didn’t have the time for liveblogging. Justin and the gang did a great job, though; I found their updates more timely and comprehensive than CNN’s.
First, give credit to the pundits: the general consensus of predictions (including my own) were right on. The Democrats picked up 28 seats in the House and 4 seats in the Senate (Pennsylvania, Missouri, Rhode Island, Ohio), with 2 Senate seats (Virginia and Montana) hanging in the balance. We may yet see a Democratic majority there.
The Dems also picked up 6 governorships, and now control a majority of those, as well as making serious gains at the statehouse level.
Some random thoughts:
Party makeup: On the one hand, I’m disappointed that the Democratic gains took an especially heavy toll on moderate Republicans. That’s to be expected, since swing districts are pretty much by definition going to favor moderates in both parties. Santorum was a good scalp, and several Bush lapdogs went down. But Chafee, Steele and the like are the kind of people I’d like to see remain relevant in Republican circles.
Still, consider the long-term trends. In order to win, Democrats veered toward the center, electing conservative and moderate candidates in several key races. And the darling of the Netroots, Ned Lamont, got stuffed by the far more conservative Joe Lieberman. Nancy Pelosi may be liberal, but she will have to lead a caucus that will be decidedly more centrist than the one it replaces.
It’s also interesting that as the Democrats grow more moderate, moderate elected Republicans are growing scarce. That will give conservatives and the religious right even more of a hold on the GOP. Unless they find a way to counter that, Republicans may find themselves ideologically purer but increasingly out of power.