Thoughts on the 2010 Election

I’m going to add to this later, but I have to say something about the election results! So here goes with a few bullet points:

  • The Tea Party had successes, but was a net loss for the Republicans. Hypotheticals are always uncertain, but it seems likely that the Republicans would have won the Senate elections in Delaware, Nevada, and West Virginia if the Tea Party candidates had not won the Republican nomination. That would have been a Republican majority.
  • Today’s Washington Post cites unspecified exit polls as finding that 23% of voters said that they were voting for the Tea Party while 18% said that they were voting against it.  That sizable left is not doing nearly as good a job at making itself heard.
  • The Right claims a victory when it ousts a moderate Republican, even if it means the Democrats win the election. By the same token, if to a lesser extent, the Left should consider the defeat of Blanche Lincoln a victory. True, she did win the primary, and true, she may well have lost anyway – but they did weaken her.
  • The underlying point of all this is that progressives need to move away from President Obama and start working for what they believe in in every election.

As I said, more later!

I expanded (briefly) on this analysis as part of the Presidents’ Roundtable at the Northeastern Political Science Association conference, Friday, November 12, at 3:45 PM in the Parker House. For a podcast of my remarks, see

November 10, 2010: See “Did the Tea Party Cost Republicans the Senate?” in Chris Cillizza’s Washington Post blog, “The Fix.”

6 thoughts on “Thoughts on the 2010 Election”

  1. Progressives need to push their own agenda every election cycle. If it means weakening a conservative democrat and having the Democrats lose an occassional seat, so be it, at least the progressive movements concerns will be taken seriously.

    Occasionally, you need to punish those that count on your support and then ignore your concerns.

  2. Juston, I agree completely! What I was trying to say is that the right does it all the time, and brags about it – they knew Chrisine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle might lose, but they pushed for them anyway. When the left does it, as in the dump-Lincoln campaign, they get embarrassed.

  3. John–really thought-provoking piece here. A major question I grapple with is how long the Tea Party movement will last? How long do you think they will sustain their “outsider” mojo before the Republican Party co-opts them and/or dilutes their message?

  4. Good question, Dorie. It’s hard to predict, of course, but my guess would be that the Tea Party group will stay together in the House and try to block the extension of the national debt limit when it comes up this spring — thereby possibly shutting down the government. What I’m less sure about is whether Rand Paul will stick to his antiwar position. If he backs away from that, I think they will lose their momentum. On the other hand, if the Tea Party gets blamed for a government shutdown, it will cost them a lot of support.

  5. I believe the anit-corporate sentiments that exist withing the Tea Party will come into conflict with the Republicorp agenda and lead to a serious fracturing.

    Tea Party support was always about short term gain for the Republicorp, in the long run it is leading them to long-term minority status based on current demographic changes taking place in America.

    If they continue to alienate the hispanic vote (though the Forida victory gives them a glimmer of hope) they will be up against a solid blue Texas – California – NY – and maybe even Florida in ten years.

  6. I don’t know if Tea Party members and leaders are anti-corporate, but they are against government subsidies to corporations – but maybe you mean that, Juston. I agree about the demographic shifts coming — but they do have a strategy, which involves 1) repealing the Fourteenth Amendment, so that people born in the US do not become citizens unless their parents have Green Cards, at least, and 2) attempting to split the Latino vote along class lines. This is not working well, but it is working better with Latinos than with African Americans. They have already split it along ethnic lines (Cuban American vs. everyone else), although that may fade away as third-generation Cuban American become less concered with Castro.

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