Interesting split: Ohio protects traditional union rights, while telling an overreaching Washington to lay off its health-care arrangements. Indeed, there were splits everywhere. In this year’s gubernatorial elections, both parties held serve: Democrats retained West Virginia and Kentucky; Republicans retained Louisiana and Mississippi.
This kind of status quo ticket-splitting firmly refutes the lazy conventional narrative of an angry electorate seething with anti-incumbency fervor. In New Jersey, for example, all but one of the 65 assembly incumbents seeking reelection were returned to office.
Even Virginia, which moved to near-complete Republican control, is a cautionary tale. Republicans won six House of Delegates seats, giving them an unprecedented two-thirds majority. However, they had hoped to win outright control of the senate. They needed three seats. They won only two and will have to rely on the tie-breaking lieutenant governor’s vote.
Not a good night for Virginia Democrats. But compared to the great 2009–10 pendulum swing that obliterated them (in a state Barack Obama carried in 2008), 2011 was more rebuke than rejection.
The larger narrative is clear: American politics are, as always, inherently cyclical. Despite the occasional euphoria, nothing lasts.