It was a really big show, as someone once said. I swear I must have spilled half my boilermaker on at least several occasions. Although I haven't looked at the numbers specifically, I'd guess the Republicans made as good a showing as 1994, maybe even better. So what are we to take from all this? Here's what I think.
1) This was absolutely NOT a watershed "OMG the Republican have been right all along" moment. There were no Hallelujah epiphanies by moderates or leftists who have finally seen the conservative light.
2) This was a clear referendum on Democratic leadership and policies, plain and simple. Exit polls in North Carolina showed 90% plus were voting AGAINST rather than FOR!
3) If Republicans blow this opportunity they will be just as throughly rejected in 2016.
4) Libertarians are a problem that have to be addressed, and establishment Republicans are woefully ill-suited for the job.
Let's dig a little deeper. Where did the Republicans over-perform and why? In Virginia Ed Gillespie almost pulled one out against a very popular ex-Governor (lost by less than 1%), and would have won had not the Libertarian syphoned off 2.45% (Gillespie was so far behind he wasn't even on anyone's radar). In Colorado Cory Gardner won over an incumbent (admittedly an idiot) in a state Obama took twice. So how did they do it? Messaging that's how. They offered a clear agenda for the future. They ran as optimistic, enthusiastic conservatives and that excitement and energy was felt by the electorate...and they responded. Contrast that to Tillis who won by a point and a half in a state that Romney carried in 2012. His was a drone campaign, all TV ads and press releases. He won because he had the resources not to be "disqualified" by Hagan's henchmen, not because he had a positive agenda. Hagan and her support of Barack Obama and Harry Reid was rejected, Thom Tillis was just the means to that end. He's damn lucky he won.
CW mentioned that the Tea Party was over and done. Maybe he's right, as a organized political entity. The Tea Party never was that organized to begin with but the ideas and ideals espoused by the Tea Party are as old as America and the notion that they have somehow gone away just because the Republican Party establishment rode a protest wave, well it's just ridiculous. The Tea Party is here to stay, whatever it may be called.
But CW is right on one point, the task of the Republicans now is to put on their big-boy pants and start governing like grownups! No games, no shenanigans just hard-nosed legislating for the American people, and that includes oversight of the executive. We've had a lot of corruption these past six years, the subpoenas should be flying out the door very soon.
This is an opportunity, a trial run for 2016. Let's not blow it. Let's get the Dems on the defensive and keep them there.