Purple Reign

Weigel studies the initial numbers from the Swing State Project's tally of congressional districts' voting habits:

In just the preliminary numbers put together by Swing State Project, there are 24 Republicans whose districts voted for Bush in 2004 and Obama in 2008. Lee Terry, a Nebraska Republican, now represents a "blue" district. So does Mary Bono Mack, whose Palm Springs, California district has not been at risk since her late husband, Sonny Bono, won it 14 years ago.

And Obama's victory turned many swing seats into safer Democratic strongholds. In 2006, liberal newspaper publisher John Yarmuth scored an upset victory in Kentucky's 2nd district, which contains the city of Louisville and had voted only 51-49 for Kerry. This year Yarmuth won a rematch with his 2006 opponent as Obama carried the district by 13 points. Freshman Democrat Chris Murphy represents a Connecticut district that split 49-49 between Kerry and Bush but went by 14 points for Obama. Seats like these fall off of Republican target lists – strategists from both parties mark them "safe" and move on.

What does it mean in the long term? After all, can't the pendulum swing right back? Of course it can. But it doesn't swing by itself. It needs to be pushed by something – by a crisis of faith in the ruling party, by reforms in the opposition party, by demographic shifts that give one party a leg up.

Republicans can no longer fool themselves into thinking the country is naturally slanted toward them, or that they have a built-in majority. If the Democrats can win Hastertland, the Republicans need to figure out how to take it back, or how to win somewhere else.