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2010 Election: Denial, Elitism, and Possible Overinterpretation

I’m glad to see that President Obama and the rest of the Democratic leadership don’t get that Tuesday’s massive defeat was a repudiation of Democrat policies.  I had thought Democrats would do some honest self-evaluation for at least a few days—as they seemed to do following Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts—before convincing themselves the message was not about them.  But this time the denial was immediate. I guess the bigger the emotional trauma, the stronger the psychological defense mechanisms that kick in.

My fear was that Democrats would do what Republicans did following their defeats in 2006 and 2008—that is, fess up to the error of their big-spending ways, thus paving the way for the forgiveness and course correction that made Tuesday’s comeback possible.  But Democrats’ initial reactions indicate that I overestimated their capacity for self-awareness.  Whew.

Still, there’s plenty of opportunity for self-sabotage in the GOP if victory turns self-awareness into arrogance.  That danger includes overinterpreting the election results to conclude that Democrats have been vanquished in any permanent sense of the word.  Like Erick , I’m happy that November 2 left the Democrats “wiped out except among coastal elites and majority-minority districts.”  I just hope that Republican leaders realize how temporary it might be.  As I said in my April 2009 post (“Dems Have Permanent Majority … at Least Until the Next Election”) regarding predictions of GOP irrelevance, “the only honest analysis is admitting that you haven’t got a clue about what’s going to happen in future elections.” 

Speaking of coastal elites, I’m gratified to see that my election morning post at the Committee for Justice blog turned out to be even truer than I had hoped.  I suggested that, as in the nationwide Congressional elections, voters would use a judicial retention election in Iowa and a Nevada vote on judicial selection commissions—backed by Sandra Day O’Connor—“to say no to elitism.”  I admittedly avoided a prediction of complete victory in Iowa and Nevada, but voters there were less hesitant.  They fired the three Iowa Supreme Court Justices on the ballot, all of whom discovered a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in the state constitution last year.  And Nevadans chose popular election of judges over selection by commissions that inevitably “get captured by trial lawyers, academics and antibusiness activists.”

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