Some early thoughts after an evening spent watching election night coverage on television:
- Republicans are giving the Barack Obama Democrats a challenge on the racial diversity front. Nikki Haley's election as governor of South Carolina means that, with Bobby Jindal, there are now two Indian-American Republican governors. And Cuban-American Marco Rubio, the Republican senator-elect from Florida, is an instant star.
- The strong showings of independent candidates for governor Eliot Cutler in Maine (My friend and former colleague Seth Lipsky's Harvard roommate) and Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island will be ammunition for all the campaign consultants hoping to get Mayor Bloomberg to share some of his billions with them on an independent presidential candidacy in 2012. If the economy stays bad, if President Obama doesn't up his game, and if the Republicans look like they are going to nominate Sarah Palin or someone like her, Mr. Bloomberg may be tempted.
- The Democrats, at least on the Senate side, have a new message: "middle class." Senator Schumer tried it out in his Senate victory speech in New York, which I doubt got much national television attention but I caught here in New York: "We must be a party that focuses on the middle class, we must be a country that focuses on the middle class." The Senator-elect from Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal (who overlapped at Harvard with Mr. Cutler and Mr. Lipsky) sounded the same theme in his victory speech: "We have to put middle class families first again and that means middle class tax cuts now."
- The Democrats aren't going to stop taking aim at profitable sectors of the American economy. Mr. Blumenthal touted his experience in taking on "utilities," "pharmaceutical companies," "big tobacco" and "internet providers."
- For the Republicans, an emerging theme is "limited, constitutional government." The senator-elect from Kentucky, Rand Paul, talked about this in his victory speech, in which he spoke of "limited, constitutional government." Senator DeMint was on ABC News with the same message: "We believe in constitutional, limited government."
- As George Will put it on ABC, "15 months from now we will be in Des Moines." The 2012 presidential race begins tomorrow.
- The Tea Party produced some winners as well as some losers. Loser: Christine O'Donnell in Delaware. Winners: Haley, Rubio, Paul. And the night is young.
- Money may be, as the saying goes, the mother's milk of politics, but it isn't everything, especially for self-financed candidates. Linda McMahon spent $41 million of her own money in Connecticut and lost, and we will see what Meg Whitman gets for her $140 million. Something for Mayor Bloomberg to keep in mind.