Bear with me while we process the election from our system. This may take a while.
On the re-election of Our Favorite Congresswoman, Danielle Ryan of the Los Angeles Times writes simply: “[Jim] Graves, a self-made millionaire and Minnesota hotelier, was seen as the Democrat’s best chance yet to unseat [Michele] Bachmann — a formidable fundraiser and tea party champion. The race was Bachmann’s first test since ending her short-lived presidential campaign after a disappointing sixth place finish in the Iowa Caucus in January. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced in mid-October that they had placed Graves on their exclusive ‘Red to Blue’ program — a list of 53 GOP incumbents that the Democrats were confident they could beat on election day. … Bachmann managed to rake in nearly $4.5 million in campaign donations. FEC records showed that she had spent nearly $8 million through September, compared to the $1 million spent by the Graves campaign. Toward the end of the campaign Bachmann defended herself against the charge that she was a divisive and polarizing member of Congress, claiming that she had been an ‘independent voice’ in Washington, willing to stand up even against her own party.”
Kevin Diaz of the Strib writes: “Bachmann’s winning margin of 1.18 percentage points put the race out of the range for an automatic recount under state law. As the final precincts reported their results, Bachmann’s lead grew from just under 1,000 around midnight to the final tally of 4,207. Shortly after 5 a.m., Bachmann’s campaign declared victory in a news release. … St. Cloud State University Prof. Julie Andrzejewski and her husband attended the Graves election night party at a hotel in St. Cloud, hoping to see a Bachmann upset. They said many of their Republican friends voted for Graves this year. ‘They’re really embarrassed and tired of being represented by someone like Michele Bachmann,’ said Andrzejewski. Democrats were banking on a significant number of voters, particularly independents, who might have misgivings about Bachmann’s history of provocative and factually contested statements, a number of which got attention last year during her short-lived bid for the presidency.”
In a breezy read, Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post tallies up last night’s winners and losers. Among the latter, he writes:
* Tea party champions: The tea party wing of the GOP cost Republicans near sure-thing Senate seats in Missouri and Indiana by nominating two candidates who were aligned with their views but not with the broader electorates of the states they were running to represent. Add Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin to a list that in 2010 included Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell and Ken Buck and you see five Senate seats that Republicans could easily be holding if they had nominated the more electable candidate. At the House level, tea party hero Joe Walsh (Ill.) lost badly and Rep. Allen West (Fla.) appears headed to defeat although he has yet to concede the contest. Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) eked out a win despite the Republican nature of her suburban Twin Cities seat. The message? Being a tea party hero is great if you are running for the tea party nomination. Of course, that doesn’t exist.
* Expanding the map: The final week of the presidential campaign was dominated by talk from Republicans that they had a real chance at victory in places like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Minnesota. None of them were all that close. Romney lost by 5 points in Pennsylvania, 8 points in Minnesota and 9 points in Michigan.”
On the 8th District race, Mike O’Rourke at the Brainerd Dispatch says: “Citing the billions of dollars spent on campaigns, [winner Rick] Nolan told the crowd of supporters at the Brainerd Hotel and Conference Center early Tuesday the influence of money threatens democracy. ‘We need to change the way we do politics in this country,’ he said. He pledged the first bill he would introduce in Congress would be to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Stuart Rothenberg of the Roll Call and the Rothenberg Report wrote earlier this year that Nolan ‘spent a then-impressive $212,000 on his last re-election campaign but now agrees he’ll need to spend closer to $3 million than $2 million to win.’ Early Wednesday, Nolan said his race was one of the most expensive in the country, probably costing more than $15 million in total.” Good lord …
As for the legislature, Don Davis of the Forum papers says: “To say Tuesday was a good day for Democrats may be an understatement. Even many of the most partisan members of the party did not predict such an overwhelming showing. The biggest impact on Minnesotans may be the DFL’s take-over of the state Legislature.
Unofficial returns show Democrats will have at least 73 members in the House, which convenes at noon Jan. 8. Republicans now have 72. In the Senate, Democrats won 39 of the 67 seats. That compares with the 37 seats Republicans had this year. Before Tuesday, there had been talk about Democrats winning back the Senate, but few thought both chambers would flip. … The new Legislature means Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton will have friendlier faces in control. He wants to raise taxes on the rich to help balance the budget, one of the biggest fights he had with Republicans. One of the issues already being discussed with a new DFL Legislature is whether it will try to legalize gay marriage, one of Dayton’s wishes.”
At the PiPress, Bill Salisbury and Dave Orrick report: “Republicans barely won control of the Legislature two years ago. They took the House by a combined total of less than 700 voters and the Senate by about 2,000 votes.
Nearly half the GOP incumbents were first-termers, and a lawmaker’s first re-election bid is usually his or her hardest. Moreover, they were all running in new territory under a court-ordered redistricting map drawn up earlier this year. The new lines prompted 47 incumbents to retire, guaranteeing at least one-fourth of the seats would change hands, the largest turnover in a decade. While the presidential and congressional races dominated the airwaves and headlines this fall, the battle for control of the Legislature will have a big impact on Minnesotans. It will affect their taxes, the quality of their kids’ schools and their access to health insurance, among a myriad of other everyday issues.”
At MPR, Jennifer Vogel, Tim Nelson and Tom Scheck write: “Dane Smith, president of the progressive think tank, Growth & Justice, said earlier that if Democrats took control of the House, the Senate or both, Dayton would have an easier time establishing a health insurance exchange as mandated by federal law but opposed by Republican legislators. He also thinks the picture may change on taxes. ‘If one chamber or the other changes hands,’ said Smith, ‘I think the case for some sort of revenue increase is strengthened, whether it’s a partial restoration of the income tax rates before the [then-Gov. Jesse] Ventura cuts in 1999 or 2000, or an expansion of the sales tax base. One of those things will happen if control is lost of one chamber or the other.’ But now the pressure is on Dayton to accomplish something big. ‘He will have to produce something, some major achievement,’ said Smith.”
On Voter ID, another MPR team, of Jessica Mador, Tim Pugmire and Martin Moylan, says: “Voter ID supporters had argued the measure would combat voter fraud and improve the integrity of elections. Some of those supporters gathered at O’Gara’s Bar and Grill in St. Paul early in the evening, but they were gone by about midnight, as it seemed increasingly likely their side was headed for defeat. A leader of the pro-amendment forces, also named Dan McGrath, conceded that supporters did not have enough votes to pass the measure. He said the proponents of the proposed requirement would turn their attention to passing a voter ID bill in the 2013 session. ‘Now we press on and keep doing what we’ve been doing,’ he said.” … Because it has worked so well.
And who can resist checking in with John Hinderaker at Power Line after a night like that? John does not disappoint: “[T]here is a much more important proposition that, I think, was proved false last night: that America is a center-right country. This belief is one that we conservatives have cherished for a long time, but as of today, I think we have to admit that it is false. America is a deeply divided country with a center-left plurality. … with the economy the dominant issue in the campaign, why did that consensus not assure a Romney victory? Because a great many people live outside the real, competitive economy. Over 100 million receive means tested benefits from the federal government, many more from the states. And, of course, a great many more are public employees. To many millions of Americans, the economy is mostly an abstraction. … the most telling incident of the campaign season was a poll that found that among young Americans, socialism enjoys a higher favorability rating than free enterprise. How can this possibly be, given the catastrophic failure of socialism, and the corresponding success of free enterprise, throughout history? The answer is that conservatives have entirely lost control over the culture. The educational system, the entertainment industry, the news media and every cultural institution that comes to mind are all dedicated to turning out liberals.” I hope to god John never has to experience the “catastrophe” of Sweden, Norway, Denmark and other socialist hellholes firsthand.