Wednesday, November 06, 2002
REPUBLICANS TAKE THE SENATE!!!
Well, it's been an awfully long time since I've blogged anything (just over two months in fact) but Russo's Republic is back in business.
News of the day: The incredible Republican sweep of the elections. Watching the returns last night was a lot of fun, much better than in 2000 when we were all huddled around the TV hoping against hope that Bush could pull it out. I think perhaps the first signs that it would truly be the GOP's night came with the very early announcement of victory for Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and even more significantly, that of senate candidate Saxby Chambliss, who ousted democratic incumbent Max Cleland in Georgia. The fact that Chambliss swept the election with a comfortable seven point margin, despite projections that his opponent would win and that a GOP victory in Missouri was much more likely, illustrated early on that Republicans were out voting in force.
For a quick recap of just how well the Republicans did in this election, check out the Washington Post's election day summary:
On individual Senate races, however, conflicting evidence from the surveys in many states was enough to give both sides hope that most of the nine competitive races could go either way. The lone exception was Arkansas, where Republicans privately expressed pessimism about their chances of preventing Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R) from losing to Attorney General Mark Pryor (D), despite a visit from Bush yesterday.
In Minnesota, former vice president Walter F. Mondale (D), who went on the ballot after Sen. Paul D. Wellstone (D) was killed in a plane crash, debated former St. Paul mayor Norm Coleman in an unprecedented election-eve encounter. Weekend public polls disagreed on who had the edge in that race.
Among the closest races are the contest in South Dakota between Sen. Tim Johnson (D) and Rep. John Thune (R); and in New Hampshire, where Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D) is counting on support among independents and women to help her defeat Rep. John E. Sununu (R). Sununu has the benefit of a GOP tilt in the state, but could suffer some erosion if conservatives who supported Sen. Robert C. Smith (R), who lost the primary to Sununu, stay home or write in Smith. Another tossup race is in Colorado, where Sen. Wayne Allard (R) has struggled against former U.S. attorney Tom Strickland (D). Both sides privately expressed confidence yesterday.
Two other races became significantly closer in the past two weeks. In Georgia, Sen. Max Cleland (D) has been trying to hold off a late surge from Rep. C. Saxby Chambliss (R). Democrats said yesterday they had seen some signs of improvement there, but Republicans believe Bush's Saturday visit will motivate Republicans to turn out in big numbers. In North Carolina, Elizabeth Dole (R) has lost her once-sizeable lead against former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles (D).
Of these 9 races that were said to be toss-ups, only two went to the Democrats (Johnson defeated Thune in South Dakota and Pryor defeated Hutchinson in Arkansas, though this was actually expected, due to Hutchinson's affair with a staffer that cost him reelection. I have no pity for him). In Louisiana, democratic Senator Mary Landreux failed to garner 50% of the vote, which means a run-off (and possible Republican victory) is in the works. And in the other 6 competitive races--that would be Minnesota (Coleman), New Hampshire (Sunnunu), Colorado (Allard), Georgia (Chambliss), North Carolina (Dole), and Missouri (Talent), Republicans were victorious, sometimes by a huge margin.
Of course, I haven't even mentioned our gains in House seats, and our great record with governorships--how insane is it that Virginia has a democratic governor (Mark Warner) and Maryland has a republican (Bob Ehrlich)?!...but you can read all about that on someone else's blog. It was a pretty great night to be rooting for the GOP.