In thinking about what to write after a long election season hiatus, I honestly just thought of completely reposting this piece from back in May, which built upon an earlier case I laid out for a ginormous Republican seat gain by making the case that if you simply assigned House seats to their Cook PVI winner, the result would be a sizeable GOP majority.
How big? The seat breakdown I had for a perfectly politically balanced House of Representatives was 239 Republicans to 196 Democrats.
Right now, we sit at 239 and we'll end up in the 242-243 range.
In an odd way, I think the Tea Party surge has ended up bringing Washington back to the true political center of the country, but not yet fully to the right. The obstacles Republicans faced in moving the needle in their House numbers -- entrenched Blue Dog incumbents like Ike Skelton, John Spratt, Chet Edwards, and Gene Taylor -- were moved away last night. These are not "surge" seats that will be surrendered at the next election, but now likely Republican for life -- and ones we didn't have during Republican control of the House from 1994 to 2006. I tweeted out a few possible remaining targets for 2012 -- Heath Shuler for one, Ben Chandler for another -- but in truth I was having trouble coming up with that many because the Blue Dog hit list was exhausted so completely.
Meanwhile, we generated a 63 seat wave without much in the way of gains in deep blue areas. The second act to the Scott Brown miracle didn't happen as New England stayed staunchly blue with the exception of New Hampshire. That's unfortunate from a storytelling perspective, but it also means we defend our newfound majority from much more solid ground than either the Democrats from 2006 onwards or Republicans in the dozen years after the 1994 revolution.
The atmosphere in Washington today is also much more muted than it was after '94. Check out this remarkable clip of Gingrich right after the '94 vote poking his finger in the eye of the White House, claiming a mandate and saying "We are revolutionaries." I remember all that, but it sounded so out of place in today's context given all the modest rhetoric about a "second chance."
This election was also a direct repudiation of a leader elected under Messianic pretexts. It was only a matter of time before the arrogance of it all -- the Hope stuff, the "We are the change we've been waiting for," the pretentiousness of the sunrise "O" -- generated an equal and opposite reaction (kind of like all of you who love to hate the Yankees). With Republican enthusiasm in the toilet the last two cycles, their very legitimacy as a political opposition spit on by the media, Republican voters I talked to yesterday took enormous satisfaction in seizing upon Obama's political weakness as they cheerfully showed up to vote.
The act of yelling "realignment" after an election is getting tired and farcical after an unprecedented third wave in a row, so I'll resist doing it here. In the House, there was a tactical realignment, as seats Democrats held for personal reasons now give way to natural conservative Republican-held strongholds we'll hold for a long time. Attitudinally, the pendulum simply swung from the far left to the center. The President will be a Democrat, the Senate will be narrowly Democratic, and the House Republican, and the overall result will be all sides canceling each other out, e.g. centrism.
While not conservative per se, it is in one important sense: very little will get done. And that's a good thing. D.C. types assume gridlock is a dirty word, but voters acted very deliberately to hit the breaks on the Democratic train that ramrodded Obamacare. A pause in the frenetic activity of the last two years in Washington, and the fact of the House as a de-facto veto on spending levels, means a profoundly conservative outcome, if not in policy, than in the nature and speed and pace of activity coming out of the nation's capital.