Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Reporting the Republican Wave

A wave is a wave is a wave.

The polls were mostly right, but with a distinctly Democratic bias. As Nate Silver explained in his FiveThirtyEight blog, most Senate polls seriously underestimated the extent of the Republican victory. At times, by a lot.

Of course, the event is the event. How it is reported in the media is something else.

So, naturally we turn to the New York Times to see whether the newspaper of record is spinning the Democratic defeat in its news columns. Opinion is opinion… another story altogether.

As it happens, the Times account strikes me as fair and balanced. The paper does not sugarcoat the results. It does not disparage a national mood that pollsters and commentators had been trying to dampen.

See if you agree with me:

Resurgent Republicans took control of the Senate on Tuesday night, expanded their hold on the House, and defended some of the most closely contested governors’ races, in a repudiation of President Obama that will reorder the political map in his final years in office.

Propelled by economic dissatisfaction and anger toward the president, Republicans grabbed Democratic Senate seats in North Carolina, Colorado, Iowa, West Virginia, Arkansas, Montana and South Dakota to gain their first Senate majority since 2006. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, a shrewd Republican tactician, cruised to re-election and stood poised to achieve a goal he has pursued for years — Senate majority leader.

An election that started as trench warfare, state by state and district by district, crested into a sweeping Republican victory. Contests that were expected to be close were not, and races expected to go Democratic broke narrowly for the Republicans. The uneven character of the economic recovery added to a sense of anxiety, leaving voters in a punishing mood, particularly for Democrats in Southern states and the Mountain West, where political polarization deepened.

The biggest surprises of the night came in North Carolina, where the Republican,Thom Tillis, came from behind to beat Senator Kay Hagan, and in Virginia. There, Senator Mark Warner, a former Democratic governor of the state, was thought to be one of the safest incumbents in his party, and instead found himself clinging to the narrowest of leads against a former Republican Party chairman, Ed Gillespie.

Those contests were measures of how difficult the terrain was for Democrats in an election where Republicans put together their strategy as a referendum on the competence of government, embodied by Mr. Obama.

House seats where Democrats had fought off Republican encroachment for years were finally toppled. Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, was easily re-elected in Wisconsin, a state that voted twice for Mr. Obama. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott, once considered endangered, finished the night on top. And states that had seemingly been trending Democratic, like Colorado and Iowa, fell into Republican hands.

With at least a nine-seat gain and most likely more, House Republicans will have close to 245 seats, the largest Republican majority since the Truman administration.

For those who care about how the story is being told, the rest of the report is well worth a read.


Dennis said...

What one needs to concentrate on is the number of ideas and groups that got repudiated:
1. Obama, even as he intimated that this election was about his policies, and his governing philosophy
2. The "war on women" was decimated as a tool to separate voters into victims and men
3. The use of the race, sex et al card as a useful political tool
4. The unions lost to Rick Scott and Scott Walker despite the amount of money and dissembling
5. The news "media" in the fact that they have lost the power to affect elections because in most cases they have lost credibility
6. The environmental crown who spent a lot of money to affect races and then lost
7. The Democrat party who has acted like the people work for then instead of them working for the people. The utter arrogance of stating we have to approve the "unaffordable Care Act to see what is in it
8. Harry Reid who acted as the a tyrant and keep bills from reaching the Senate floor so that fellow democrats would not have to vote on bills that might affect their electability and to keep Obama from having to veto or sign unpopular bills
9. The whole idea that we can be divided into warring factions that can be defined by or color, creed, sex, et al
!0. The American people need to be controlled by a strong centralized government
11. Gun Control
I will others to expand on the list of people and groups who were repudiated.

One especially satisfying moment was seeing Sandra Fluke get defeated in California, seeing that Mia Love and Joni Ernst won their respective races. Women did rather well as Republicans. The real strong women with their own principles and not "knee pad" candidate.
Another satisfying moment was see in Tim Scott win. Oh and seeing one of the sleaest trial lawyer in this country defeated by Rick Scott.

What will be interesting to see how the thin skinned radical ideology will handle things going forward and what democrats will allow to happen given that the Republicans can now use the precedence that was established by Harry Reid.

Dennis said...

I forgot Wendt Davis, euphemistically known as "Abortion Barbie." And last of all radical feminism.

Lastango said...

A few points about the NYT's column:

- That's about as good as the NYT can manage. It's possible for the reader to ignore the Lefty insinuations.

- Calls to "end the gridlock in Washington" translate as "Republicans need to capitulate". That's the Democratic Party's interpretation of bipartisanship... and unfortunately one which the RINOs all too often find attractive.

- Despite the truth that the election result is in part a reaction to Obama, there were many important, concrete local and national issues. For instance (as Dennis notes above) gun-grabbers did poorly. So did environmentalists and War-On-Women pimps.

- We need to beware the Left's efforts to put this in terms of Obama as an individual (and not his administration and what he has perpetrated in consort with elected Democrats). A focus on Obama sets up the argument this election result is a racist reaction against Obama himself, and deflects attention from Obamaism's toxic mixture of personality cult, totalitarianism, and corruption of the institutions of government.

- The Left will be saying "angry reaction" as often as it can, to paint Republicans and conservatives as primitive, extremist, and bitter clingers.

Lastango said...

We ought to ask, Does this election result help Hillary?

I need to stew on that a bit, but my first instinct is that it helps her secure the Democratic Party's nomination. She has been rhetorically moving to the center lately, and Democrats are going to be feeling snakebit by overt progressivism. That makes it less likely a challenger can effectively attack Hillary from the left.

BTW, I notice that leftwing progressive demonstrators have begun showing up at Hillary's public appearances to criticize her. IMO, the demonstrators are plants in order to help Hillary posture as a moderate.

That said, I don't think the results of yesterday's vote help her win an election against a Republican. Establishment Democrats lost bigtime, and there is no one is more Establishment than Hillary. People voted to throw the bums out, and she's a bum.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Keep in mind, nearly all the candidates Hillary supported and campaigned for LOST. Nearly all the Dem senate candidates, strongly supported by her, LOST.

There's only so much spinning they can do.