The Note: Coming Full Circle

Nov 3, 2010 9:15am


THE NEW MAJORITY. In the course of one night, critical gains Democrats had made in Congress over the course of two years were erased as the party in control of the White House suffered a painful loss of nearly 60 seats. As of this morning there were still 15 seats that have not been called — all of them currently held by Democrats. The GOP is likely to pick up some of those, bringing the total number of seats gained by Republicans even higher. To be sure, the Senate was a silver lining for Democrats, but as ABC political analyst Cokie Roberts put it in a post-election night wrap-up early Wednesday morning, “the change” that voters across America have been seeking over the past few election cycles seems to “keep changing.” So, what happened?

ANGER AND APATHY. The angry vote differential was huge this year, much more so than in 1992 or 1994, according to ABC pollster Gary Langer who dug through the results of yesterday’s exit polls.  On Tuesday “angry voters” made up 1 in 4 voters overall, and they went 84 percent to 14 percent in favor of Republicans for House. Also, the “apathy factor” among the Obama coalition contributed to the big losses in the House too. Langer finds that among voters on Tuesday, 46 percent voted for Barack Obama in 2008, 45 percent for John McCain. But remember, Obama won the 2008 election by a 53 to 45 percent margin. On Tuesday 13 percent of Obama voters defected to Republicans for Congress, while 8 percent of McCain voters favored Democrats. And among other voters — the 7 percent who either didn’t vote, or voted for someone else, in 2008 — Republicans won 58 to 37 percent.

A POCKETBOOK ELECTION. Another interesting tidbit from the analysis of exit poll results, “This year, 62 percent of voters picked the economy as the single most important issue in their vote — and they voted 53-44 percent for Republicans for House. It is the first time, in exit poll since 1992, that economy voters have favored Republicans,” Langer writes.Only 14 percent of voters say that compared to two years ago their own financial situation is better. That’s the lowest in exit polls back to 1984 (24 percent said so in 2008 and 1992. Forty-one percent, by contrast, say they’re worse off — and favored Republicans by nearly 30 points.” And, moving forward the “mandate” isn’t so clear for the new governing majority. Per Langer’ analysis of exit polls: “An interesting challenge for the new Republican leadership of the House will be what to do with the Bush-era tax cuts — an issue on which voters on Tuesday were divided. Thirty-nine percent want these tax cuts continued for all Americans, but about as many, 37 percent, want them continued only for families with incomes under $250,000 a year. The rest, 15 percent favored letting them expire for all.”

More on the key races in Alaska, Colorado, and Washington State that are still too close to call from “Good Morning America’s” morning after political wrap.  

THE BOEHNER ERA.  A tearful House Speaker-in-waiting John Boehner, R-Ohio, told supporters in Washington Tuesday night that “with their voices and their votes, the American people are demanding a new way forward in Washington.” He pledged that “the people's priorities will be our priorities. The people's agenda will be our agenda. This is our pledge to America, this is our pledge to you.” Still Boehner struck a note of humility in his remarks. “This is not a time for celebration, not when one in 10 of our fellow citizens are out of work, not when we have buried our children under a mountain of debt, not when our Congress is held in such low esteem. This is a time to roll up our sleeves. To look forward with determination. And to take the first steps toward building a better future for our kids and grandkids.”

NOTED: President Obama telephoned Boehner on Tuesday night to tell him he was “looking forward to working with him and the Republicans to find common ground, move the country forward and get things done for the American people,” according to a White House read out of his call. On Obama's schedule today: a 1 p.m. Eastern press conference to discuss Tuesday night’s results.

SAYING GOODBYE. Though she easily won her own re-election contest, it was a tough night for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “Over the last four years, the Democratic Majority in the House took courageous action on behalf of America’s middle class to create jobs and save the country from the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression,” Pelosi said in a statement on Tuesday. “The outcome of the election does not diminish the work we have done for the American people. We must all strive to find common ground to support the middle class, create jobs, reduce the deficit and move our nation forward.”

TUNE IN TONIGHT: ABC's Diane Sawyer scores the first television interview with Pelosi since the Democrats lost control of the House. The interview will air on tonight's edition of "World News” which will be anchored from Washington. 

HARRY HANGS ON. It was a better night for Democrats in the Senate where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid prevailed over Republican challenger Sharron Angle. “I’ve run in some tough elections no one thought I could win,” Reid told supporters last night. “We are proof that a test is tough only if you’re not tough.” How’d he do it? The AP takes a closer look at the Nevada electorate: “His victory was powered by overwhelming support from minority voters, according to an Associated Press analysis of preliminary exit poll results. He bested Angle among all nonwhite voters surveyed, including two-thirds of Hispanics, eight in 10 blacks and three-quarters of Asians.”

NOTED: Massachusetts Senator John Kerry issued what may have been the strangest statement of the night in response to Reid’s victory. “Politico was wrong, Huffington Post was wrong, hell, all the pundits were wrong,” Kerry said. “Harry Reid isn’t just Dracula, he isn’t just Lazarus, he’s our Leader and our whole caucus is thrilled that he’s unbreakable and unbeatable.”


 RAND PAUL: “We’ve come to take our government back,” Paul said at his victory party in Bowling Green, Ky. “They say that the U.S. Senate is the world’s most deliberative body. I’m going to ask them to deliberate on this: The American people are unhappy with what’s going on in Washington.”

 BARBARA BOXER: “We stood up to Karl Rove and we won. We stood up to Sarah Palin and we won,” Boxer said.

CHRISTINE O’DONNELL: “I cannot thank you enough.  We worked hard.  We had an incredible victory.  Be encouraged.  We have won.  The Delaware political system will never be the same.  Well, you know what I mean by—my joking big brother goes: ‘We won? Did we miss something?’  You know what I meant.  We were victorious because the Delaware political system will never be the same.  That’s a great thing.  The Republican Party will never be the same.  And that’s a good thing.”

PAT TOOMEY: "The voters of the commonwealth came together to give me this extraordinary responsibility to take back our government and change the direction we're on," Toomey said. "Today we send a simple message to the establishment in Washington: We're tired of what's been going on down there. We're tired of it, and we're going to chart a new course. We're going to grow this economy. We're going to create jobs. We're going to reduce the debt and the deficit, and in the process we're going to create a more promising future for our kids and grandkids."


ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”:  ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter talk to Matt Bennett, co-Founder of Third Way, a Democratic think tank about what the election results mean for the party. They will also speak to Reid Wilson of the National Journal. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.



UNDER THE RADAR. Politico’ s Ben Smith points out: “Republicans made big gains in state legislatures tonight, capturing full control of both legislative chambers — crucial to partisan redistricting — in six states. Republicans took over control of both houses in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Alabama, Michigan and Wisconsin. The GOP is also poised in win gubernatorial elections in a number of those states, solidifying their control over the redistricting process. The GOP took control of 16 chambers tonight in all; Democrats flipped none.”

TEA PARTY TALLY. How’d the Tea Party movement fare last night? Our ABC political team was keeping score: “Democrats in unlikely states. Nikki Haley became the first Asian-American governor in South Carolina. One of the biggest Tea Party wins was in Wisconsin, where Republican businessman Ron Johnson defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold. Rand Paul, an ophthalmologist-turned-politician in Kentucky and one of the first major Tea Party candidates, defeated his opponent Democrat Jack Conway despite bitter campaigns that questioned his personal beliefs and ability to lead.” More results:

THE ROAD TO GRIDLOCK? ABC’s Matthew Jaffe recently wrote that a split House and Senate could mean gridlock for at least the next two years — a prediction that is looking more and more likely. The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein amplifies the point: “It was a historic session — one of the most productive since the New Deal — but in the end, it was brief. Four years after taking over Congress with the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives, Democrats lost control of the chamber in a devastating, wipeout election. And as the political practitioners and election pundits take stock of what happened, perhaps the one conclusion all sides agree with is this: if government seemed stalemated and futile before, the next two years will bring new meaning to deadlocked. ‘There are going to be confrontations, subpoenas, demands that people testify, efforts to undermine the things the president has done,’ said Norm Ornstein, a student of congressional history and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.”  



@jaketapper: POTUS called more than 60 members of Congress last night. More on his response to the "bloodbath" here >

@SailorX: Ldr. Boehner is on his way to the Capitol for a photo op with Whip Cantor. Smiling this morn as he left his home. #spkrinwaiting#stakeout

@shushwalshe: How did Palin's endorsees do last night. Here's the mama grizzly scorecard:

@KasieHunt: Sharron Angle concession speech: This is the first time I've seen a Senate candidate brag about raising money out of state.

@HowardKurtz: Hats off to the TV types who worked late and then were up early offering analysis today. Bleary-eyed journalism keeps it real.


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