Nov 03, 2010

Every Wednesday, Fix blogger Chris Cillizza discusses the midterm election results, Congress, the Obama administration and the world of politics.

We made it!

Election Day -- aka the best day of the year that is not Mrs Fix or Fix Jr's bdays -- was yesterday and what a day it was.

Right now: Republicans are plus SIXTY seats in the House, six seats in the Senate and six governors seats.

The big domino to fall this am was Rick Scott winning the Florida govs race.  Some reporting that Michael Bennet has won the CO-Senate race but AP has not yet called it.

Lots of questions. Let's get started.

I know it's much more exciting and fun to discuss "Winners and Losers" and coffee and music, but before we talk about "what it all means," how about some basic facts? What is the current and likely final figure on voter turnout? What percentage does that represent of registered voters and the voting age public? How does that compare to other recent mid-term elections? If you don't include this data, you really can't accurate analyze last night's results.

We'll need to wait a few days before all that gets settled since raw data is still being counted.

Exit polling suggested the midterm electorate was older (not surprising) and deeply dissatisfied with the direction of the country -- particularly on the economy (also not surprising).


Hey Chris, with her historic write-in win, do you foresee Murkowski changing her ways and caucusing with the (in-power) Democrats? It would be the ultimate insult to Republican leadership that turned their backs on her during the race.

I don't.  She has said publicly she plans to caucus with Republicans. If anything, she may have elevated her stature within the GOP as someone who appears to have taken on the Sarah Palin wing of the party and won...

Admit it. Like the rest of us, you really wanted Jimmy McMillan of the Rent is Too Damn High Party to go to the statehouse in Albany. Politics has been too genteel since Jesse Ventura stepped down.

I am ALWAYS pro politicians who wear gloves inside.

I am ANTI people who wear sunglasses inside though.

While I'm sure Marco Rubio will be anointed as one of the rising stars of the GOP after his win last night, one thing should be noted: he got 49% of the vote. If Meek had dropped out, it's very likely his voters would have switched to Cook and Cook would have won.

Um, no.

I assume you mean Crist not Cook.  But, I see no evidence in those results that suggest Crist would have won without Meek in the race.

Don't assume that since Rubio got 49 percent in a three-way race he would have also gotten 49 percent in a two-way race. No doubt some of the people who voted for Crist/Meek might have switched allegiance.

I actually thought Rubio's showing was stunningly strong.

Does this mean we no longer need to hear about Christine O'Donnell?

Thankfully yes. It is absolutely ridiculous that someone who received something like 40 percent was the SECOND most covered political campaign in the country in a Pew poll.


He screws up, everybody else gets punished as a result, but he keeps his job. Discuss.

A remarkable win for Reid. Remarkable.

It shows that campaigns matter. Reid ran a brilliant one, Angle didn't.

Neither candidate was particularly good and the Nevada voters didn't like either of them.

But, Reid beat Angle badly on campaign mechanics. Incredibly impressive.

By the way, if Bennet wins in Colorado his campaign team and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee deserve huge credit as well. In a national political environment like this one, it's amazing that he is where he is.

Yeah its not great for Democrats to lose the House, but this isn't nearly the whomping the press predicted. Harry Reid's still in office and so is Barbara Boxer. And we can all thank the voters in Delaware for voting in Coons. And call me cynical but the moment all the new freshmen get to the House it'll be business as usual. The players may change but the game's the same.

Not sure I can agree.

Republicans gained more seats in the House than in any midterm election since 1932.

Republicans gained six Senate seats and could win in either CO or WA.

Republicans won six governorships included big states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

I think Democrats -- particularly at the Senate and govs level -- avoided the doomsday scenario that some had predicted for them but it was by no means a kind election for Democrats.

731 days to the next Congressional election! ;-) But seriously, the fun and instructive part now begins which is, can this next Congress once sworn in, actually govern? That's where the rubber hits the road after all.

But you are forgetting about 2011 races like MS, LA and Ky govs and mayoral races in Los Angeles and Chicago!

And, no, I am not kidding ;)


Soundtrack for chat: new live Avett Bros.

Coffe for chat: Caramel Vanilla latte.

I wanted to give MAJOR kudos to all at the WaPo who updated the interactive maps last night. Here in Ohio I was glued to it, especially for the governor's race, when what counties were reporting when was important to keeping sanity. Thank you so much for this awesome feature!

It. Was. Amazing.  Seconded.

Has it hit you that the CT Senate race is over and the references to wrestling with Linda McMahon is at an end?

To quote Jim Ross: "No. NO! NO! How could this be happening?"

Cue me being hit with a chair in the small of the back.

Is John Boehner the same in person as Ted Baxter?

I thought it was kind of neat that Boehner teared up last night though I know he took a bunch of guff for it.

I am a HUGE sap -- I tear up at least once a day when thinking of Mrs Fix + Fix Jr -- so maybe I just have a soft spot for people with a soft spot.

Do you believe that Sharron Angle will be a primary opponent for John Ensign in 2012?

No. Dean Heller will be. And he will win. That is assuming that Ensign decides to embark on that quixotic race which I am still very skeptical of.

Also, LOVE the 2012 question. Amazing Senate cycle coming up folks. Get psyched!

It used to take decades before we saw massive shifts in Washington, now it seems as if it happens with some regularity. What is the reason for this? Does 24/7 cable news coverage which hypes everything as the biggest event ever have anything to do with it?

I am working on a post for later this week (or early next) on whether there is any such thing as even a semi-permanent majority anymore...

Do think constant media coverage -- cable., blogs etc -- plays a role. More to come.

How soon do we see announcements of exploratory committees? Will any of them be Democrats?

By the end of the year, I think the over/under on people being in the race on the GOP side is 2.

Tim pawlenty will be in and maybe Mitt Romney. Also would be surprised if Haley Barbour, Mike Pence and John Thune weren't "exploring" the race by then too.

Do the Republicans immediately target Manchin for 2012 given that Obama will be running and on the ballot this time?

My guess is they try to recruit Rep. Shelley Moore Capito into the race.  She passed on the special election but, in retrospect, might have been able to win.

Starts Now!

Correct. Did someone just fire a starter's pistol?

The Denver Post has called for Bennet, but as you said in the intro, AP hasn't. Can you go over the way these races are called and what leads to discrepancies?

Sure. AP and the networks build models. So, if Bennet is winning a certain precinct in Arapahoe County -- for example -- by X number, they are able to project how he will do in the precinct as a whole.

The calling/not calling then comes down to what the model shows and how out on a limb the various callers want to be.

AP is holding bak because only 7K votes separate Bennet and Buck. My guess is that the Denver Post is looking at where the outstanding votes are and concluding that Buck can't make up the margin.

We shall see.

I'm sure you're aware of the arguments that these results could actually put Obama in a stronger position in 2012. Republican House to run against, perceived extremism of some Republicans, etc. Plausible?

Sure. It's the Bill Clinton 1994 example. Gives Obama a foil, someone to blame things on etc.

Not sure whether it's right. I generally think you would rather have your party control Congress than not.

What are the odds (I am guessing zero) that Harry Reid steps aside as majority leader and lets someone less polarizing take over? This would accomplish a couple things....remove one argument that the Republicans have about the Senate and not working together and give Reid a chance to concentrate on Nevada (which, lets face it....if you barely beat Angle....your home state might need a little love). This would be better for the country and for Nevada but not for Harry Reid (unless he looks at the long term and being elected again). So...not happening, right?

Is there a number less than zero I am not aware of?

Also, Bret Easton Elis reference!

With all the change in the makeup of the House and Senate do the Republicans still have the best former athletes? Listening to a BS podcast.

Jon Runyan is an offensive tackle. That means he is a bettter athlete than me but a way worse athlete than Bill Bradley.

Now, if Chris Dudley wins the OR-Gov race I may be forced to re-address the question.

Also, I heard Shawn Bradley lost a state legislative race yesterday. Not kidding.

What does the political future hold for Nancy Pelosi?

That the $20,000 question today.

I was surprised that Democrats lost down ballot in NY and CA, despite relatively easy wins at the top of the ticket. I was pretty sure there would be some coattails, given how blue each state is.

TOTALLY agree.

New York was an absolute slaughter at the House level even as Cumo was blowing Paladino out. Voters obviously separated the races out in their minds.

Is there any chance of this happening? I'd like you to say no, but as a freak show lover, I'm hoping for a yes.

Could she run? Sure. Fourth times a charm and all that.

Could she win? Um, no.

Ultimately, doesn't this result come down to the economy? If it were doing better (especially in terms of jobs), Democratic losses would have been much smaller. Conversely, since things are still bad, big losses for the governing party were pretty much inevitable.

Probably yes. But, candidates and the campaigns they run do matter.  Much more so in the Senate and Gov races than in the House but they do.

He is a good politician and Sharron Angle is not!

I think harry Reid is sort of like Zydraunas Ilgauskas. (And, yes, I know I spelled his name wrong.)

He knows what he can do and what he can't do. He surrounds himself with people -- LeBron -- who make him way better.  And, he tends to be on winning teams.

I took my 19-year-old to vote in his first election yesterday. Now that was a tearing up moment for me.

I think that is SO awesome. You are the second or third person who has told me a similar story in the last 24 hours.


I bring up the name Christine O'Donnell with some trepidation, but I think I will just because I believe the national media deserves a huge raspberry for coverage of the Delaware Senate contest. Consider the margin of her loss -- as you noted -- and consider how we know know next to nothing about many of these new US senators coming into office -- some of whom could soon be major players on the national stage.

I did my best not to cover her or, when covering her, to acknowledge that she was a media phenomenon not a serious candidates.

Is there any chance another Republican will credibly challenge for Boehner for speaker?


Sure looks like Florida will be one of the main swing states again in '12. The Rick Scott/Alex Sink race shows how it votes 50/50 Rep./Dem. Redistricting fight should be interesting as well.

Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia -- Republicans looking at 2012 are likely very happy about what happened in each of those states yesterday.

Does the winner need to capture a simple plurality? How much of the "write-in" was Murkowski and how much was random names egged on by that one radio host?

The latter question is the important one. And we don't know yet. BUT, Murkowski was BY FAR the best known write-in candidate so it's safe to assume she won the lion's share of "write-in candidates" ballots.

If she does win, she will be the first Senator since Strom Thurmond in 1954 to win as a write-in. amazing.

Quick update: Paul LePage (R) has won the Maine gov race. Repubs now have netted 7 seats at the gubernatorial level.

Ahhhhhhh, no more political ads.

Kind of nice right? Time for the Fix "best ads of the year" competition though...start submitting!

Seeing as how the winning percentage of self funders seems to dwindle every election as a result of more of them running and less of them winning (besides Rick Scott and Ron Johnson, did any self funders win last night?), and especially given the exorbitant amount that folks like Whitman dumped in, do you see last night's results as any kind of deterent to self funders jumping in statewide races in the future?

Nope. Rich people are, inexplicably to me, drawn to public office.

As I have said before, if I was Meg Whitman I would have taken that $142 million and bought my own island. And have Elvis Perkins/Bon Iver/Wilco/Springsteen flown in every night to play together.

What do you make of Pat Quinn's apparent victory? Who would have expected him, of all people, to survive?

I genuinely don't know.

He ran an atrocious campaign. Period.

How long before we see Rubio on the national stage? Tea party darling, great persaonl story, hispanic etc... We will be seeing Marco Rubio a lot in the next 6 years, no?

Six years may be a little too long...2012 anyone?

"Now, if Chris Dudley wins the OR-Gov race I may be forced to re-address the question" Clearly, you never saw him shoot free throws.

He was still in the NBA!  I did declare for the draft after my junior year at Georgetown but went undrafted.

Slap in the face. I am the Kevin Martin of journalism.

(And, yes, I have now made a Ilgauskas and a Kevin Martin reference in this chat.  And, yes, I know me and five other people probably know who they are.)

Herman Cain. I think he passed up running for Gov in GA cause he wants the whole enchilada. Just sayin.

Right. Well, anyone CAN run for president. it is a free country after all.

My 2012 candidate? Tammy Taylor. Vice president? Coach Eric Taylor.

I understand that 12 state houses went Republican yesterday. During a redistricting cycle. Are enough people aware of how big a story this is, in addition to the congressional races?

People are not aware enough. I believe that at last count 21 legislative chambers went for Republicans last night.

It is a HUGE and undercovered story. Will make a big difference in the line drawing process in 2011.

Headline in morning Republican-American of Waterbury: 'Blumenthal Pins McMahon'

I would have done:

"McMahon down for the count"

Clearly Olympia Snowe can't win a Republican primary, but would very likely do quite well in the general. Does she A) Retire completely B) Bow out after losing the primary C) Run as an independent after losing the primary a la Murkowski or D) Run as an independent before the primary a la Crist?

Will be interested to see what she does. If a candidate like LePage -- who had significant tea party support -- gets in against Snowe, she could be in trouble in a primary.

What are the races to watch in the next two years? Webb in Virginia's got to be one, right? Who else?


MO, VA, NE, MA, ME, OH...I mean it is a jackpot for political junkies.

"Caramel Vanilla latte" - the day after a Republican victory, shouldn't the coffee be something more blue collar - like "Coffee - regular"?

Um, you must not follow these chats. My coffee choices are the diametric oppposite of blue collar. if I am not paying $5 for a small cup of coffee, I don't feel right.

Not only no more ads on TV/radio, no more "running the gauntlet" of candidates at the metro station on my way to or from work!!!

You'll miss them when they are gone. Like the cast of "Jersey Shore".

I was hoping for a Hersey Hawkins reference

I did make a Mark Macon reference on Tv the other day.

Also, Lionel Simmons.

Boo yah!

Fix, why do I care about the governorships in states other than the one I live in?

Falls Church! WHAT WHAT!

And, it sounds like you don't. But, gov races SUPER important. Look where the crop of 2012 GOPers will come from. Govs....

Questions about the Nevada and Alaska races? Chat with Jon Ralston about Nevada at 1:30 and Jeanne Devon about Alaska at 2.

P.S. Don't miss Paul Kane's chat at 12 about what's next for Congress.

Speaking of tearing up, I would not recommend listening to "While You Were Sleeping" by Elvis Perkins on the day after an election when you are exhausted.

Not that I would know, of course.

The 3 highest profile tea-party candidates backed by Palin all lost. One of them will caucus with Republicans anyway, so there are no practical consequences. However, if Republicans had Nevada and Delaware -- highly likely if the nominees had been sane -- they might control both houses of Congress next year. Doesn't anyone in the party leadership care about that?

Stay tuned for a Fix winners and losers post later today. HINT: There will be some discussion of your topic.

Good Night or Bad Night?

Eh. Not a great one. But, Palin is in some ways beyond good or bad nights. The people who love her, love her no matter what. And the people who don't still talk about and read about her anyway.

Imagine my surprise that you made it to chat this am. Kudo's.

Fix=not kidding around.

That would make Buddy Garrity Chief of Staff

Correct. And Tim Riggins Secretary of Kicking Ass. 

It just occured to me that you and I are the same age!

Wait, is that good for me or bad for me?

I add in FL, ND and MT.

And I would agree.

You do you know that tracee, Tom and Cheese Girl hold chats the WP picks up the tab for coffee, lunch, snacks etc. Do they pick up your coffee tab. Try Rustico in ballston for lunch and save room for dessert. Get the Chocolate Pudding Parfait. Bill Crosby never had pudding sooooo good.

I have been TRYING to get this chat sponsored by a local coffee shop -- Northside Social are u listening? -- for years.

What more do I have to do? I invented the piano key necktie. I invented it!

That's it and that's all.

A few things:

1. Make sure to check the Fix all day and all week for the latest and greatest updates and analysis from the election that was.

2. Thanks for digging the chat. it's been a bright spot of the election for me.

3. At 4 pm, if you are religious, do me a favor and say a prayer for Mrs. Fix's Catholic University field hockey team. They are up at Susquehanna University playing in their semifinals of their conference tournament.


In This Chat
Chris Cillizza
Chris Cillizza is the managing editor of PostPolitics and he writes "The Fix," a politics blog for The Washington Post. He also covers the White House for the newspaper and website. Chris has appeared as a guest on NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and CNN to talk politics. He lives in Virginia with his wife and son.

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