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Russ Feingold, one of the Senate's most liberal members, has lost his Senate race in Wisconsin. A passionate opponent of the Patriot Act and champion of campaign finance reform, Feingold lost to Republican businessman Ron Johnson. Here's how pundits are explaining the loss:

  • Feingold Lost the Money Game  Ashby Jones at the Wall Street Journal writes:
...Johnson has invested more than $8 million of his money in the race, and although the two campaigns are competitive with each other financially, outside groups have spent nearly $3 million on Johnson’s behalf.

A WaPo analysis shows 92 percent of the outside spending has supported the Republican. The impact has been obvious: The Wesleyan Media Project said there have been more commercials about the Senate race in Wisconsin than in any state outside Nevada.

“I’ve always been a target in this stuff,” Feingold said during a recent campaign stop. “And this year, I’m getting the full dose: over $2 million in these ads [criticizing him] that used to not be legal.”

  • Or Maybe Johnson Had a Winning Message  Eric Kleefeld at Talking Points Memo writes: "So how did Johnson win? The biggest thing he did was campaign on not being a creature of Washington, a fresh face appealing to an atmosphere of anti-incumbency. As he explained in this ad, he's not a lawyer:"

  • Johnson Campaigned Against ObamaCare, writes Matthew Kaminski at The Wall Street Journal:

Ron Johnson beats Russ Feingold in Wisconsin, seemingly by double digits — even wider than the polls predicted. The president and first lady campaigned hard for the three-term Democratic incumbent. But Johnson, a political novice, ran a disciplined campaign. He made some gaffes and kept the press at a distance, but his direct manner and business career proved appealing. Johnson got his start by speaking up against ObamaCare at a Tea Party meeting last year, and made it a prominent part of his campaign. As one of his memorable television ads put it, Johnson will now be the sole manufacturer and second accountant in the Senate.

  • It's a Big Win for Conservatives, writes Frank James at NPR: "His defeat gives the Republicans one of their biggest political trophies of the evening since not only was he a liberal Democrat albeit with a renegade streak; he was also one-half of the hated (by Republicans) McCain-Feingold campaign finance law which many conservatives for years viewed as an abridgment of free speech rights and an anchor on Republican candidates."

If anyone should have been able to w/stand an anti-Washington wave, it was Feingold. Yet... #alwaysbepreparedless than a minute ago via web

K Powers makes point that Tea Party was regarded as a joke, but they've taken out Feingold: significant.less than a minute ago via web

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