The morning after

A great night for Republicans, picking about 60 seats and the majority in the House, 6 seats in the Senate, about 9 governors, and several state legislatures. A great night for the Tea Party, with Senate wins in Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin (plus all-but-uncontested South Carolina and Utah) and scores of House wins. The execrable Alan Grayson went down to a well-deserved thrashing, RINO-turned-independent Charlie Crist was defeated handily, and the Obamacare vote-switchers were decimated.

Still, I can’t help being wistful about what might have been. Candidate selection and gaffes allowed Democrats to keep some seats that Republicans should have been able to take in this year’s climate. And, although it wasn’t a surprise by election day, California’s bloody-mindedness is just astonishing, to send back to Sacramento the man who three decades ago set in motion the fiscal mess that plagues that state today.

On the other hand, my home state of Pennsylvania executed a very welcome about-face. We turned the governor’s seat, the Senate seat, 5 House seats, and the state House to Republicans. The GOP already controls the Pennsylvania Senate.

The high notes of the evening for me were Pat Toomey’s (R-PA-elect) gracious acceptance speech and Marco Rubio’s (R-FL-elect) inspiring acceptance speech.

The most important speech of the night was from Speaker-to-be John Boehner (R-OH). He made clear that he gets it: America did not embrace the Republicans and the big-government policies of their last stint in power; America repudiated the Democrats and gave the GOP a second chance. Hopefully, the scores of Tea Party representatives in his caucus will help him remember that.

UPDATE: Ramesh Ponnuru finds a silver lining in a small cloud on a bright day:

Republican victories last night were amazing judged by any standard other than that of the inflated expectations some conservatives had in the days leading up to the election. But the upside of the high-profile disappointments Republicans have just experienced is that they will nip any triumphalism in the bud. If Republicans had swept all before them, they would have entered the 2012 cycle overconfident.

UPDATE: Another such silver lining: David Kopel points out that, given a Democratic Senate, keeping Reid as majority leader is good for gun rights. The alternative would have been majority leader Schumer, who is strongly against gun rights.

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