Senate tea party
When we do the scorecard for the US Senate, the contest is as much Tea Party vs. The Establishment GOP as it is Republican vs. Democrat. When it comes to re-energizing the party and saving it from oblivion, the Tea Party movement has been critical. When it comes to candidate recruitment, both the Tea Party and the Establishment have a few stumbles.
The most obvious mistake candidate has been Christine O’Donnell in Delaware. O’Donnell was never going to win the general election, but her opponent in the primary would have won easily. If Republicans fall one or two seats short of a majority in the Senate, this will be the race that woulda-coulda-shoulda have been the one to put the GOP over the top.
Making the O’Donnell situation worse is a possible spill-over effect into Pennsylvania. As much as the GOP has tried to “nationalize” the elections, the downside to the strategy is that sometimes the campaigns just next door can have a drag effect. Because of the importance of the Philadelphia media market in Delaware, Pennsylvanians are getting an earful of just how rotten the GOP can be, too.
Pat Toomey was a Tea Party candidate before Tea Parties were cool. He should win, but this race was made unnecessarily close by forces beyond his control.
Both of parties “establishment” apparatus have a lot to explain in the Keystone state. Both of them embraced Arlen Specter, and amazingly he acted like a magic bullet hitting both parties.
The other Tea Party candidate nobody wanted, Sharon Angle, has a good chance of beating Democratic Senate majority Leader Harry Reid. On the one hand, chalk this up as a Tea Party win. On the other hand, why did this race have to be so hard?
Meanwhile in Florida, the GOP establishment candidate, Charlie Crist, is now running as an independent trying to seek Democratic votes against the Republican nominee Marco Rubio. Rubio is going to be a rock star in the GOP. Charlie Crist is going to be a political punch line. Whatever the Democrats offered Kendrick Meeks to jump out of the race, he should have taken it.
In Illinois, the establishment candidate Mark Kirk needlessly embellished his resume, making that race tighter than it needed to be. In Alaska, Lisa Murkowski is actually trying to win re-election as a write-in.
On the flip side, in California a self-funding candidate managed to keep the race close with Barbara Boxer.
Here in Wisconsin, the Republican Party embraced the Tea Party movement and the result was businessman Ron Johnson who is almost certain to defeat incumbent Democratic Senator Russ Feingold. Because Johnson will not have quite the advantage Scott Walker has in keeping the Democratic percentage down in Milwaukee County, I’m going to predict conservatively a 53%-47% win for Johnson.
Republicans nationally will pick up net 7 seats: Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Wisconsin, and North Dakota.