Meet the Republican Losers Who Make It Really Hard to Spin a "No Mandate" Narrative

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 8 2012 10:29 AM

Meet the Republican Losers Who Make It Really Hard to Spin a "No Mandate" Narrative

At this hour, before provisional ballots are counted, the margin in Florida's 18th congressional district is 2,456 votes. Patrick Murphy, a first-time candidate backed by tons of family money, leads Rep. Allen West by nearly five times the margin by which George W. Bush beat Al Gore, statewide. The district, which contains some of Palm Beach County and some conservative environs to its north, was chosen by West because it seemed more safely Republican than his old seat. And he's going to lose it.

Rep. Mary Bono Mack. The widow of Sonny Bono and husband of Rep. Connie Mack represented a tweaked district in Riverside County, with a Hispanic population that's grown steadily. She lost by nearly 5,000 votes, as her husband lost his Senate bid in Florida, the first time this has ever happened. Her race was a warning of demographic doom. His was all that, plus a lesson in how little good Super PACs can do for a lousy candidate.

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Colorado Speaker of the House Frank McNulty. His party spun and spun and spun the early vote, insisting that improved turnout among Republicans had effectively swung the state. But his Republicans lost control of the legislature, thanks to the sustained surge in Hispanic/Democratic turnout. In Minnesota, in New Hampshire, in Maine, in Oregon, the same thing happened -- Democrats took back state chambers that they'd lost in the 2010 wave. In Arizona and Florida, they won enough seats to erase Republican supermajorities. In California, they won legislative supermajorities. The only places where they backslid out of control were Arkansas, with huge Romney coattails, and Wisconsin, where Democrats struggled against a gerrymander.

Rep. Rick Berg and Gov. Linda Lingle. Back in January, the Hotline ranked North Dakota as the Senate seats most likely to change parties. "Unless Rep. Rick Berg royally screws up," they analyzed, "he'll remain the heavy favorite." He didn't really screw up, apart from one meandering interview about abortion rights. He lost, running 10 points behind Mitt Romney. Actually, Romney also cut ads for Utah's Mia Love, Indiana's Richard Mourdock, and Arizona's Jeff Flake. Romney carried all of their areas, but only Flake won. As for Lingle, the popular former governor of Hawaii was a star GOP recruit, a fundraising machine backed by the Chamber of Commerce, who was supposed to make the state's open seat Senate race competitive. She lost by a landslide, more than 100,000 votes.

I'm hearing less "No Mandate!" spin than I did yesterday. Makes sense. As the provisional ballots get counted, it's just going to be impossible to argue that the country didn't make a turn from 2010 and vote for Democrats who wanted to raise some taxes.

(Kudos to Carolyn Fiddler, who's been tracking the state legislative races.)

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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