I went to bed when the Senate was at 52-44, comfortable in the knowledge that a majority had been won. I woke to the news that Sullivan would probably win in Alaska, so we're looking at 53. A month from now, I'm hoping to see Mary Landrieu finally ousted from the Senate, to get to 54. Most surprising of all though, was that the People's Democratic State of Maryland elected a REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR. Who had Barack...and Michelle....and Bill....and Hillary....all campaigning for his opponent. This is indeed a wonderful day.
I was honestly (pleasantly) surprised by the Tillis win in North Carolina, having received most of my news on that race from the Tickbite Tattler's constant screeds against the Republican Establishment and the apocalypse that would befall us for not running a sufficiently ideological candidate.
So, what does all this mean? It does not mean that the electorate all of a sudden loves Republicans, or our ideas. They are decidedly down on the President, they are unsure about the direction of the country, and they made the choice that the direction we were on was the wrong one. We should not misinterpret this victory. Each of the races was indeed an individual contest between those running, but the President was on the ballot, in a deeply psychological way. That said, this was NOT in my view, an affirmative choice about GOP ideas or policies. There is no real mandate here, only a tentative decision to had us the keys to the car and ask us to drive for a while.
I believe that this election means that as a separate political entity, the Tea Party is now moot. Its five year run is effectively over, but not without demonstrably changing the tone and tenor of the Republican Party. That is a good thing--a strong Party is like an alloyed metal, with new ideas acting to change the character of the whole. If it wants to keep Tea Partiers in the fold, GOP Leadership will have to make sure that they respond to the issues they hold dear. If it gets cocky and starts to act as if the Tea Partiers have been defanged, we'll have another painful insurrection.
This also means that Hillary is now unbound. Democrats will be unnerved by the extent of the defeat last night, and Barack Obama is a dead man walking. The President is so unpopular that she now has a pass from her party to run against Mr. Obama. Look for her to begin to talk about reforming Obamacare, for example.
Republicans should (as I said yesterday) use their time in the spotlight to show Americans that the legislative branch can function. It can pass budgets. It can move legislation to the President. Uncork that bottle of bills that Harry Reid has sat on and begin sending them up to the President. Act like adults.
This is a really great day. Two years ago on the day after Mitt Romney lost, I could not have thought this possible. But that's the great thing about American Politics.