As someone pretty invested in an institutional view of politics, I should say that last night's elections show the limits of the approach. If economic performance were the sole predictor of political results, then Sharron Angle should have won the Nevada Senate race without a problem; at 14.4 percent, the state has the highest unemployment rate in the country, and Harry Reid -- with an approval rating in the low thirties -- was practically the He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named of Nevada politics.
As it stood, Angle was a terrible candidate with absolutely radical views. No matter how bad the economy was, it seems, Nevada voters weren't prepared to deliver a Senate seat to Angle. This should comfort progressives, at least a little bit; President Obama's reelection odds still hinge on economic performance in 2012, but if Republicans nominate someone like Sarah Palin or Mike Pence, Obama could win, handily. Even with a bad economy, it seems that the electorate has an absolute threshold for extremism, which -- I should say -- is excellent news for everyone.
-- Jamelle Bouie