As I say right at the end of my new book, I've pretty much given up on psephology. But last week I was asked by Congressman John Campbell for predictions on The Hugh Hewitt Show, so I winged it:
JOHN CAMPBELL: So Mark Steyn, it is the Thursday after the election. Could you please give me the election results and your analysis of them?
MARK STEYN: (laughing) Well, I wish I were that good that I could break it down. But I would reckon the Republicans have taken six seats plus a surprise one. I think the late breaks are breaking the Republicans' way on that, and I think they'll make a few gains in the House, too. So modest gains, but I would say modest gains in the House, too. And the other thing to watch, I would say, is state legislatures where it may well be looking something like 2010.
Close enough. By 11pm, the GOP had those seven Senate seats, and maybe ten House seats. That's actually a pretty remarkable result: Even in pendulum years, you only get three or so Senate seats changing hands, and there would have been more pick-ups in the House if the districts weren't so gerrymandered to protect incumbents. Nobody has yet figured out a way to gerrymander a state, and, accepting all the New York Times tutting about the "older, whiter" electorate that votes in midterms, this was a vote against where Obama and the Democrats want to drive this country.
Not that I was overcome with enthusiasm:
MS: I would say a weary Republican fatalism actually will beat a Democrat disenchantment on Tuesday night. I'm not sure I'd put it any more enthusiastically than that. But I think weary fatalism beats disenchantment.
But even a tsunami of weary fatalism has its limits:
JC: Okay, what about the states? There's a couple of governor races to the north of you there in Massachusetts and in Connecticut, a couple governor races.
MS: Yeah, they're to the south of me, John... The only thing to the north of me is Quebec, and they don't have governors there.
JC: Yes, yes. Okay, to the south of you, Connecticut and Massachusetts. So what do you see or feel in those races?
MS: Yeah, no, I don't think, I would be surprised if they were to fall the GOP's way in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
As I write, the Republican candidate Tom Foley is losing by about a thousand votes in Connecticut, and the Massachusetts Republican, Charlie Baker, has a 20,000-vote lead. So who knows?
Those new GOP House seats include New Hampshire's First District, where Frank Guinta toppled Carol Shea-Porter. As for my other home-state predictions...
JC: Now about your representative?
MS: I would like Marilinda Garcia to be joining you in the House of Representatives, John. She's running for the 2nd Congressional district, and I would love for her to be sitting next to you. So I'm going to plump for that one, and a narrow Brown victory on the basis of Marilinda's coattails, too.
Marilinda didn't make it, and neither did Scott Brown. In the time I've been there, New England's last red state has drifted into a purple state, and after last night, as the commentators see it, now looks like any other blue state. This should have been a big Granite State Republican wave like 2010, but the state leadership bungled its management of the campaign and, as I discussed yesterday, appeared weirdly eager to depress its own base.
Nevertheless, the lower end of the GOP ticket did okay-ish. The top was a desperate play that reflected the weakness and institutional decay of the state party. Scott Brown was a scrappy and effective campaigner, but he doesn't live here and it showed. Many of my neighbors had lawn signs for every Republican candidate from Governor down to Registrar of Deeds - except for the Senate race. The only Brown sign I drove past round here was outside a flatlander's vacation home.
Yet for an hour or so before midnight he seemed to be giving Jeanne Shaheen a real scare and setting up the AP's early call for the Democrat as the "Dewey Beats Truman" of 2014. They jostled at 50-50 and for a few minutes Brown even took the lead, and appeared to vindicate the NH GOP's decision to import their standard bearer. The party turned to him because for the last decade - with the exception of Kelly Ayotte - it's been unable to produce viable statewide candidates. How poignant that Scott Brown got so much traction out of immigration. In his case, the New Hampshire Republican Party needed a Massachusetts immigrant to do the job that Granite Staters can't do. He came closer than Jeanne Shaheen ever expected, but in the end you needed a homegrown candidate to seal the deal.
So the short version of Election Night 2014 seems to be that the GOP painted the map red everywhere except my own state. Great. Now we'll see what they do with it.
~I'll be spending the morning after the night before chewing over the entrails with Brown's fellow former Massachusettsian Michael Graham on the radio in Atlanta. Full details in our On The Air box at right.