Did anybody get the license number of that truck that mowed down the Democrats last night?
Voters around the country gave the party of the Donkey an old-fashioned ass whipping in the midterm elections, returning control of the Senate to Republicans and giving the elephants a larger margin of control of the House.
In Minnesota, Republican Norm Coleman handed replacement candidate Walter Mondale his first-ever statewide defeat in a race that wasn’t called until after the sun came up today.
“I keep looking for a way to spin this but I can’t find one,” a dour-looking Democratic hit man James Carville admitted on CNN shortly after midnight.
“We got our butts kicked,” said Democratic strategist Arnie Wilton. “In some ways, this is worse than 1994 (when Democrats lost control of both the House and Senate).”
According to the polls and pundits, it wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Little would change, they predicted, and the Dems would pick up a seat or two in House and dominate the governor’s races around the country. Voters, they said, would stay home. Minorities, they claimed, would give Democrats an edge.
Didn’t happen. White, middle-class voters turned out in droves in many states, tipping the scales towards the Republicans. Minorities, who may have felt the Dems were taking them for granted, stayed home. Only in California, where the voter turnout may be the lowest in history, did the Democrats score big victories.
Every once a while, the voters have to remind the pollsters and pundits that they, not them, hold the power in a Democracy. In the end, it’s always the voters who decide.
President George W. Bush gambled big time that his popularity would help Republicans in key races. It did. Democrats gambled they could offset that popularity with the usual scare tactics on the economy and social security. It didn’t work.
“We lost sight of the simple political fact that in order to win elections, you’ve got to stand for something,” Carville said. “We didn’t have a message.”
The voters, however, did have messages for the Democrats: Stop stonewalling a popular president when it comes to homeland security, stop blocking his judicial appointments and stop trying to confuse the real issues and dangers that affect our country.
They also had messages for pundits and pollsters: Don’t take us for granted, don’t presume to tells us how we will vote and don’t assume that you can sit in Washington and New York and accurate judge the mood out in America.
There’s one other message, a subtle one for Republicans.
They got a second chance to prove they are ready for prime time, ready to hold absolute power on both the Hill and down the Mall at the White House.
The message is simple.
Don’t blow it.