Winning Without Winning
Jeffrey Anderson offers some context for the Senate election results:
In the midst of a resounding national rebuke at all levels of government, the Democrats have been taking some solace in having held the Senate. But to put the Republicans’ Senate gains this week into perspective, Republicans won an even higher percentage of Senate races than House races (they won 65 percent of the 37 Senate races, versus approximately 56 percent of the 435 House races). And, counting Lisa Murkowski as still being a Republican (a spokesman for her campaign says the Alaskan would caucus with the GOP if she beats Joe Miller in their still-undecided race), there have been only two elections since 1950 in which Republicans have gained more Senate seats than the six they gained in 2010. One of those elections was in 1980, when voters swept Ronald Reagan into the White House. The second was in 1994, in response to the Democrats’ ill-advised attempts to pass Hillarycare. So while the Republicans’ gains in the House — surpassing those of 1994 and likely doubling those of 1980 — are more historic and important, the GOP’s Senate pickups in 2010 aren’t too shabby either.
Yes, the Tea Party wave did sweep Christine O’Donnell through the Republican primaries in Delaware and Republicans away from ultimate victory, there, but such outcomes are periodically inevitable when a movement raises principle at least to parity with political calculation. As Anderson notes: take away the enthusiasm that elevated O’Donnell, and you take away the enthusiasm that won the House and brought near-historic gains the Senate.
Now the task is for the Republican Party to follow suit and lead rather than calculate.