- Yesterday was a purge. I don't know whether it was Iraq. Or Foley. Or Abramoff. Or pork spending. Or Rumsfeld (oops, he's resigned.) Or Bush himself. Or all of the above. But it was definitely a purge. I'm not sure the voters remembered that nature abhors a vacuum, and that the holes that are created when someone is removed are filled by someone else. That shows up in our second word.
- Voters wanted "change." I'm sure you've heard the expression, and lots of commentators and voters are using it.
A woman on Jefferson Street hurried by me outside a local coffee shop, so I only had time to throw a very basic question her way: "What was the message of this election?"
"Just change," she said.
When asked whether the message was that simple, she said, "Yes. I think as simple as that."
The frustration with the GOP was so deep that many voters told ABC News they had selected Donnelly even though they were unclear where he stood on a number of issues, and had no comment on where the national party stood as well.
"I'm not really confident, but I'm hoping it's going to be an improvement," said civil rights lawyer Cheryl Stephan.
"I'm a little wary," said homemaker Teresa Oross, who less than 24 hours earlier had voted Democratic.
That's a civil rights lawyer and a Democratic voter who seem not to know where their chosen candidate stands. The vacuum left by the ousting of Chris Chocola has been filled by ... a blank slate, even to the district's voters. Well, he's their guy now, so they're about to find out. Some people don't even seem to know that they already have what they want.
Edna Andrews, also of South Bend, said she hoped Democrats would give a boost to the economy.
- I kept hearing about the vaunted Republican turnout machine in the run-up to the election. And yet, those voters simple evaporated, never showed up. How can we tell? Let's look at the loss of Congressman Charlie Bass to Paul Hodes in NH-2, which happens to be my district. Using rough numbers, in 2004, (admittedly a high profile Presidential year) Mr. Bass received 193,000 votes to Mr. Hodes 125,000, in a state that John Kerry won (barely). In the last midterm year, 2002, Bass received 125,000 votes out of 220,000 votes total. This year there were roughly 205,000 votes, or despite the intensity of the runup to this election, a 7% drop in total votes. Bass received only 93,000, 100,000 fewer than he got in 2004. Where did all these voters go? They didn't go to Hodes, who received 108,000 votes, less than he got in 2004, and only 13,000 more than the Democrat got in 2002.
So where did they go? They went shopping.
- Do the Democrats have a Plan? For anything? We've been hearing about a middle class tax cut, but, well, we've heard that before. The talk is there, but there's never really a Plan. And then, poof, the plan disappears into thin air, just like it did after the 1992 Presidential election. Is there a Plan for Iraq? Who knows? The media was too busy cheerleading the Democratic march to victory to hold their feet to the fire and ask for a Plan. You know. "Are you advocating pulling out, win or lose? Do you want more troops? Do you think that leaving Iraq will embolden the terrorists? What is your Plan? We're about to find out, if Sen. Reid and Rep. Pelosi don't wimp out. However, it may end up like Woody Allen's neurotic softball game - the Nailbiters against the Bedwetters.
- Nobody likes negative ads, or so we're told, and although I don't have a media research organization to look into this, it's my impression that Republicans ran more negative ads than Democrats in this election cycle. Why? The Democrats don't have to run negative ads - they've got the mainstream media to do it for them. The NY Times in particular, along with CNN, were relentlessly negative on, well, pretty much every facet of the Bush administration, Iraq, the (now flourishing) economy, the "do nothing" and later the "corrupt" and "scandal-plagued" Republican Congress. So don't let anyone fool you. Negative ads work. You just need the "Most Trusted Name In News" to deliver them for you.
- The Democratic leadership has insisted that a major objection to President Bush is that he doesn't work across the aisle. He didn't have to before (but did on some things, and perhaps could have more, to a certain extent), but now he does. Here's their chance to meet him halfway. Let's see if they understand the art of compromise, of working together.
I'd like to join Exurban League in welcoming our new Democratic overlords. Congratulations.