There are many factors that played into Republican Scott Brown's upset victory in Tuesday's election. Before the results even came in, Democrats began blaming Democratic candidate Martha Coakley, insisting that her sinking polls indicated nothing more than a poorly-run campaign. But many commentators are reading Brown's victory as a sign that the Republican party could be gaining in popularity and support against Democrats. Critics counter that Brown's victory is a tempest in a teacup, meaning less than any grand narrative. Does the Massachusetts election represent shifting political tides or is it just an outlier?
- Independents Shifting Right The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes explains, "Obama and Democrats in Washington have created a hostile environment for Democratic candidates even in liberal and Democrat-dominated Massachusetts." How? "Independents are lost to Democrats, at least for the time being. In 2006 and 2008, they fled Republicans in large numbers and facilitated Democratic triumphs for the House, Senate, and White House. Now they've staged a mass migration to the Republican camp. In Massachusetts, where they make up half the electorate, they overwhelmingly voted for Brown. This followed the 2-to-1 advantage they gave to Republicans in Virginia and New Jersey last year."
- Dem Backlash Getting Bad Liberal statistics wonk Nate Silver concedes it. "Clearly the national environment has gotten worse for the Democrats since Barack Obama's inauguration one year ago. This has been obvious from Congressional generic ballot polling, Presidential approval polling, early polling of 2010 senate races, the number of Democratic retirements, the outcomes of New Jersey and Virginia, the tenor of the political discourse in the country, and so forth. But perhaps it is somewhat more bad than we had previously realized." He runs some complex numbers to determine, "Coakley would have won by about 8 points, rather than losing by 5, had the national environment not deteriorated so significantly for Democrats."
- A Warning To Obama National Review's Rich Lowry writes, "he's just had a 1994-like event without actually losing control of Congress. Tonight reminds me a little bit of the defeat of the rule on the crime bill in the summer of 1994 -- a sharp crack in the edifice of Democratic rule that promised more change to come." He suggests Obama can stop a Republican sweep of Congress by dropping health care and other liberal goals. "They might be able to salvage something if they pivot off the current bill and do it fast."
- Underestimate Energy But No Comeback The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen argues the GOP is more motivated but not resurgent. "I think it's probably a mistake to overstate the larger significance of a special election 10 months before the midterms, but it'd be foolish to pretend Scott Brown's victory was some random fluke, never to be repeated again," he writes. "Looking ahead, chances are pretty good that organized right-wing voters will be mobilized and itching to vote in November. They certainly were yesterday. Democrats can't expect to do well with an unmotivated, listless party base.
- Conservative Republicans Will Dominate National Review's John Miller looks to the Republican primary for Florida's Senate seat, where conservative Marco Rubio is challenging current governor Charlie Crist, a moderate Republican. "One of last night's big winners: Marco Rubio, GOP Senate candidate in Florida. Gov. Charlie Crist may want to think about quitting this race. I hope someone calls Sam Tanenhaus, author of The Death of Conservatism, published just a few months ago, for a comment.
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