Election 2006 Post-Mortem
Well, everyone seems to agree that this election was a referendum on the war on terror. But don't drink the "America wants out" kool-aid quite yet.
For historical and mathematical perspective, check out these numbers: Since 1914, the average two-year midterm loss for the party in the White House is 27 seats in the House and 3 in the Senate. The average six-year (like this year) loss is is 34 in the House and 6 in the Senate.
In President Bush's two-year midterm, he completely bucked the odds, actually gaining 6 seats in the House and 2 in the Senate. That's +33 and +5 against the average. He was the first Republican president to ever gain House seats in a midterm, and only the third president of either party since the Civil War to pick up seats. Democrats picked up 26 seats in the House yesterday (the Senate is still in play with Virginia and Montana undecided). Not only is that 8 seats less than the six-year midterm average gain for an opposition party, it leaves them 41 seats behind the combined midterm average gain.
My point is not actually to belittle this win. It's just to provide a splash of reality in the midst of all the ecstatic spin and empty promises (which, for the record, we'd be getting regardless of which party won). If this election was a referendum on the war on terror, it's interesting that the gains for the opposition party are substantially less than similar elections during peacetime. The Democratic party will, of course, spin this as a massive change of heart for the American people. I'm just not sure that's at all the case.
Here's a question for you to consider: Every winning Democrat has promised to take America in a "new direction." What have they said that direction would be exactly? Did we vote for a change, or simply for change? I worry that yesterday's election was like picking a random dish from a menu just because you feel like something different; it may taste terrible, or we may even have a deadly allergy to it. I worry even more that Americans seem to have glibly voted for some very vague promises with precious few specifics supporting them, and that this appears to have been the entire Democratic strategy.
Jimmy Barrett just said "Conservatives are miserable, liberals are ecstatic, and moderates are saying 'Gee, I hope I did the right thing.' " Amen, brother.