(Writers note: Per my understanding with Hearst and King Features, their columns must be delayed a week before they appear here:)
^ELECTION DELIVERANCE: DUELING SCENARIOS@<
^(For use by New York Times News Service clients)@<
^By BOB FRANKEN@=Oct 27
^C.2010 Hearst Newspapers@=
WASHINGTON _ There is no sense being timid, so let's boldly go where no sane man would go. Here’s my PRE-election post-election analysis.
Scenario One: I TOLD YOU THE TEA PARTIERS WOULD WIN!!!
All along, we pundits had warned that when Democrats belittle their opponents, they do so at their peril. The country is angry, divided, ready for change no matter how risky.
In state after state, disgusted voters swarmed to the polls to repudiate the establishment and ignore warnings that the insurgents they chose in protest were loose cannons who would indiscriminately blast away.
Jennifer Duffy, senior editor of the independent Cook Political Report (and willing to play the dueling scenario game) put it this way: The tea party steamroller showed that ``the voters discounted what they were told about the candidates’’ who campaigned as outsiders in their efforts to become insiders.
The polls show a country evenly divided on the tea party. A Newsweek poll in late October: 24 percent of ``likely voter’’ respondents supported the tea party, 27 opposed and 33 had mixed feeling. Four percent said they didn’t know about the tea party. (Where have they been for the past year?)
Even so, President Obama was caught up in an intensely bad public mood and loud demands for change from the change that he had pushed two years ago.
Stu Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report (who was also comfortable with the premise of double scenarios) summed up the tea party sweep: ``The election turned out to be nothing more than a referendum on the Obama presidency and the voters didn't care about the quality of the candidates.’’
Obama's supporters were visibly demoralized, sulking on their side of the enthusiasm gap.
So, just two years after Washington was turned upside down, it will get overturned again. Now those who believe the entire capital needs to be fumigated will get their chance to do so.
Scenario Two: I TOLD YOU THE TEA PARTIERS COULDN'T WIN!!!
All along, we pundits warned that common sense would prevail over the passionate extremists. While the country is clearly angry, divided and ready for change (again), there were limits to the risks that voters were willing to take.
So in state after state, they swarmed to the polls to repudiate the repudiators, deathly afraid that installing loose cannons would mean everything would get blown up. Jennifer Duffy, senior editor of the independent Cook Report, believes the tea party fizzle means that ``they themselves proved again that they were not qualified.’’
The pre-election polls didn't end up telling us much of anything.
So, two years after inheriting an astounding mess, President Obama and the Democrats won their argument that electing Republicans would be the return of the mess-makers. Stu Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, asserted that the results showed that the White House ``succeeded in making the election about the quality of the Republican candidates.’’
While Obama’s supporters were demoralized, they didn't want to simply be buried in their bunkers, fearful that the new hordes would topple the country. So they jumped over the enthusiasm gap to reject those who had no direction to take the country other than to put it in reverse.
With all the tight races and chances for protracted recounts, it could be weeks before we really know how this shakes out. When it finally does, you will already have a ready explanation for the outcome, no matter what it is. If it's somewhat less definitive, make something up. Whichever scenario plays out, President Obama insists, ``We're going to have a greater spirit of cooperation...’’
We’ll see if that’s just wishful thinking.
(E-mail: bob(at)hearstdc.com; on the Web: http://www.bobfranken.tv/)