Some thoughts on the significance of yesterday's election:
1. After Mitt Romney's 2012 defeat, there was lots of talk about "a Republican demographic problem that, if not addressed, could transform the GOP into a permanent minority party." Last night's results don't entirely sink that theory, but they certainly cast doubt on it, particularly the "permanent minority" part.
2. Public employee unions are not the 10,000-pound gorillas of Republican imagination. Scott Walker in Wisconsin took them on and just won his third election in four years. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, took them on over public pension reform in Rhode Island and won the governor's race there. (Update: More on what an awful night it was for the teachers unions in particular is in this post by Rishawn Biddle.)
3. The Republican Party's winning candidates yesterday were a demographically diverse group. Elise Stefanik, who won a congressional seat in upstate New York, is reportedly the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Mia Love, who won a congressional seat in Utah, is a black woman. Tim Scott is reportedly the first black senator elected in the South since Reconstruction. In Lee Zeldin, the Republicans again have a Jewish congressman to replace Eric Cantor. Hispanic Republican governors Susana Martinez and Brian Sandoval won re-election. A Republican woman, Joni Ernst, was elected to the U.S. Senate from Iowa. Another Republican woman, Mary Fallin, was re-elected governor of Oklahoma.
4. The country hasn't entirely gone down the tubes. For all the hype about how the American people have lost religion, are obsessed with income inequality, or have been brainwashed by their left-wing Baby Boomer college professors, there were still enough sentient voters left to resoundingly reject President Obama's policies.
5. The New York Times looked silly. For more on that, please see a related post at Smartertimes.com.
6. Republicans should enjoy the victory, but not read too much into it. A lot can change in two years, as the Democrats found out last night. In 2016, with a larger electorate, more low-information voters, and a Senate map that is less favorable for Republicans, there's no telling what will happen.
7. The Republicans still have less than the 60 votes in the Senate needed to stop a filibuster. They may try to ram some bills through using the budget authority than only requires a simple majority. But they also lack the two-thirds needed to override a presidential veto. So the Republican election victories won't translate simply into any kind of Republican legislative wish list such as, say, ObamaCare repeal, corporate tax reduction, or expanded oil drilling getting enacted into law.
8. Certain of President Obama's post-election "surprises" — a potential nuclear deal with Iran, any kind of unilateral executive action on immigration — nonetheless will be more difficult — not necessarily impossible. but more difficult — for him to implement after such an electoral setback.
9. Get ready for the 2016 presidential election. Scott Walker comes out of last night stronger. Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton probably come out at least a little weaker. The candidates in the Congress — Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul — will now have to balance being part of a governing majority with running for president.