There are a number of midterm post-mortems making the rounds on the internet. The overall theme appears to be that both Democrats and Republicans can take something away from this election.
Republicans took over control of the House by a significant margin while Democrats hold the Senate. Despite cable news chatter, it is certainly not clear that Republicans will have influence over the upper chamber simply due to the large swing towards the GOP in the House, so Democrats will retain their control over government. But the high profile races are not where the action was last night; it was on the local level where the redistricting battles will occur over the next two years.
At the time of this writing, the Republican party has managed 7 gains in statehouses with 7 close gubernatorial races yet to be called. There are some upsets brewing with Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn holding on by a few thousand votes and Connecticut’s Tom Foley pulling off an upset at the polls. Overall, however, it is clear that the GOP made significant gains in gubernatorial races.
At the state government level, Republicans had their best night in decades. Republicans took over the lower chambers in Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. They captured the state Senate in New York and the GOP swept control of both houses in Maine, New Hampshire, Alabama, North Carolina and Wisconsin.
These pickups lay the foundation significant gains in redistricting. Republicans are most proud of the gains made in the upper Midwest and particularly their gains in ice-blue Michigan and Wisconsin. The swings last night in Ohio’s gubernatorial and state races will make the President’s reelection campaign in 2012 that much more difficult. No Republican has ever won the White House and lost Ohio. With Republicans in charge, it gets a bit easier for the chosen GOP candidate to make gains there.
There are victories that both sides will trumpet today. Republicans will tout the losses of perennial House figures like Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA), Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN) and Rep. John Spratt (D-SC). The Democrats can have pride in their most tenacious candidates like Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). These victories are symbolic. The structural, systemic gains that the GOP made at the state level will make the biggest impact on the political map moving forward.
Noah Rothman is the online editor at C&E. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org