Election Day Dispatches

Tammy Baldwin Is the Second Biggest Story of the Night
Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
Nov. 6 2012 10:39 PM

Election Day Dispatches

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Tammy Baldwin is the second biggest story of the night.

Tammy Baldwin was elected senator in Wisconsin.
Tammy Baldwin was elected senator in Wisconsin.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

When the confetti and Kid Rock CDs are cleared, the victory of Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin may be the second-biggest story of the night. Six years ago, Wisconsin voted on one of those gay marriage bans that plagued the land in the post-Goodrich era. All but one county approved the ban. Today, they have the nation's first openly gay senator, who now has to figure out what she wants to do with that. I'm amazed at how she came in under the radar. National gay donors realized immediately that Baldwin could be electable statewide. They'd worked with her for more than a decade, and knew her better than the people who rate candidates based on their issue profiles. Republicans underestimated her for a year, assuming that Tommy Thompson's crossover votes would save him. (I don't blame them!) He won his last election in 1998 by 22 points, and you look at a number like that and you figure you have some loyalty. It's just a fantastic night for Democrats in Senate races—Baldwin is far more reliably liberal than Herb Kohl, and Connecticut's Chris Murphy is—do I actually need to say this?—is not as conservative as Lieberman.

As I write this, I'm about to watch Josh Mandel concede the Senate race in Ohio. Sherrod Brown told me this weekend that outside grips spent around $40 million to boost Mandel. The Chamber of Commerce spent heavily in races that they're now losing. OK, maybe this is the second biggest story tonight—the incredible pissing-away of this cash on lousy campaigns.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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