KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THE MIDTERMS. Here's an abridged version of an election wrap-up memo I've been sending around:
The prevailing geographic trend for 2006 was a Rust-Belt realignment in which a cohort of Rockefeller-Ford GOP moderates was ousted by progressive Democrats who ran to their left. A major consequence of this mini-realignment is that both parties will be more ideologically and regionally coherent and, perhaps, more polarized as a result.
The irony of this transformation is that conservatives who pushed an agenda that included the Iraq war, deficits, and social issue interference from the beginning of life (stem cell bans) to the end of life (Schiavo), have mostly survived, while their more moderate brethren suffered the casualties. This provides a potential opportunity when the newly-entrenched and embittered minority overreaches, as it did even when the moderates were still around to act, in theory, as a �check.�
About 85 percent of Democratic gains at every level came outside the South:
- Five of six Gubernatorial pickups outside the South (84%)
- Five of six Senatorial pickups outside the South (84%)
- Twenty-three of twenty-eight House pickups outside the South (82%)
- For the first time in more than half a century, the minority party in the South is the majority party in both chambers of Congress -- a truly stunning development.
- 256 of 275 net new Democratic state legislators (92%), the vast majority coming from the Northeast and Midwest, yielding nine new chamber majorities (six in the Midwest, one in Oregon, both in New Hampshire)
House �Flip Rates� in 2006
|REGION||#GOP-HELD SEATS||#FLIPPED||FLIP RATE|
As for the goofy talk about the election actually being a victory for conservatism, the fact remains that it was disproportionately GOP moderates (particularly from the Northeast and Midwest) who lost Tuesday, and to progressives who ran to their left. Using the most recent National Journal data, 224 House Republicans can be ranked from most liberal (#1) to most conservative (#224).
What do we find from Tuesday?
- The most liberal Republican to lose was ranked #1 -- Jim Leach of Iowa; the most conservative was Texan Tom DeLay, ranked #213.
- Overall, of the 28 flipped GOPers, more than half -- 16 -- were from the most liberal third of the caucus (1-75); 7 were from that middle third (76-150); and just 5 were from the most conservative third (151-224).
- Most striking is the fact that 10 of the 28 most liberal Republicans in the GOP House caucus lost, including five of the dozen most liberal Republicans: #1 Leach; #3 Nancy Johnson; #6 NY�s Sherwood Boehlert�s vacated seat; #7 CT�s Rob Simmons ; and #12 NH�s Charlie Bass.
In short, the liberal wing of the GOP suffered a disproportionate share of losses compared to the moderate and/or conservative wings. Since the Democrats who beat them ran uniformly to the left of their opponents, the notion that conservative Democrats knocked off a set of mostly liberal Republicans defies simple logic. It�s not that there aren�t exceptions like Pombo and Chocola and Ryun who also lost -- it�s that they are the exceptions. Put another way, for every Chris Chocola there were two Charlie Basses.