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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Post-Mortem, Part I

Posted By on Wed, Nov 5, 2008 at 7:35 AM

Some early thoughts on this election ...

-- That was the easy part. But if Obama runs this country with the same amount of competence that he ran his campaign, we are headed for 1,000 years of peace and prosperity.

-- Like everyone else's, my jaw like near to fell off my face when Pennsylvania was called so early last night. I don't think ANYBODY could forsee Obama by 11 points here. A juvenile part of me is tempted to copy-and-paste some of the more absurd comments I've seen in the blogosphere and elsewhere ... comments insisting, for example, that an online poll at the Post-Gazette Web site was somehow more accurate than the polls the "mainstream media" was feeding you. But this is a Historic Moment, and I guess we should rise above that.

Besides, in many ways the outcome wasn't that surprising. As this space predicted shortly before the election, this race was decided in the east. Philadelphia County alone gave Obama a lead of more than 450,000 votes, and he did well in the surrounding suburbs too. Here in the western part of the state, Obama either equalled John Kerry's performance in 2004, or slightly trailed his Democratic predecessor. In Allegheny County, for example, Kerry got 57 percent of the vote, and so did Obama. Obama lost in Beaver, where Kerry got 51 percent of the vote.

-- In Congress, I'm relieved to see that the odious Lou Barletta has lost his immigrant-bashing bid to emigrate to Washington. Early this year, I worried that immigration could become a successful wedge issue for Republicans. I've never been happier to be wrong.

-- John Murtha could go on a killing spree -- could act like he accused the Marines of Haditha of acting -- and still be re-elected

-- The fly in the ointment is Congressional District 18. My coverage of this race suggested strongly that Democratic challenger Steve O'Donnell was going to fail to topple incumbent Tim Murphy. Some insisted I was wrong about that, and I wish I had been. In fact, with all the fervor surrounding Obama, the 2006 Democratic candidate -- the distinctly unelectrifying Chad Kluko -- outperfomed O'Donnell. Kluko lost to Murphy by a nearly 16-point margin. O'Donnell lost by nearly 30 points.

Some of that is a tribute to Murphy's ability to triangulate the district, landing union backing and getting some distance from Bush on a few key issues while still hewing to a conservative line. But some of it reflects poorly on the Democratic Party apparatus out here. Last night Dems in the northwest part of the state toppled the grizzled Phil English. But down here, we can't find a Democrat who seems able to win anything more than the Democratic Primary itself. 

-- Which brings me to a final thought (for now). There were a lot of hopes in some quarters that Democrats would not just win the White House, but take on a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, swamp the House of Representatives, and so on. While Dems obviously made gains, that doesn't seem to have happened. And while I expect a (very welcome) drop in the kind of deranged e-mails I've been getting for the past few weeks, some kinds of craziness never go away. The other side isn't going to roll over, and the expectations are as high as the hopes Obama inspired. Like I said, this was the easy part.

But the nice thing is, I think we just elected a president who gets that. 

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