That collective "phew, glad that's over" feeling after one of the nastiest midterm elections seems to have skipped over political news junkies. While politicians, their aides, and voters are taking a welcome break from the action, newshounds are already seeking the next big story. "In a normal election," says C-SPAN's Steve Scully, "there would be withdrawal. But this was no ordinary election." Scully, who hosts Washington Today, hasn't put down his BlackBerry and iPad, as he's always searching the Internet for the schedules of potential 2012 presidential candidates and controversial House and Senate floor action. "The real politics of the 112th Congress is just beginning. And only 722 days until the next election. And 14 months to the Iowa caucuses," he gushes.
Another political junkie, CNN anchor John King, also scoffs at the talk of pulling back. "It's not quite '94 in terms of throw out your Rolodex—remember those?!—and build a new one, but it's pretty exciting in D.C. and across the states. Leadership challenges in both parties, huge policy debates, new faces—and 2012 is in the first real act. I like the governing challenge, and it's important, so I won't have much withdrawal," he says.
Ditto in the print and blogging world, which shifted attention to the new landscape in the House and Senate even before all the results were in. "There is a letdown when nothing changes," says National Journal's Major Garrett, formerly of U. S. News. "But when there's a big change, races spring up all over," adds the former Fox White House correspondent. Then there are the leadership fights and the compelling story, he says, of those "dreaming of power and the intimidating realities of actually having to wield it."
At the Gray Lady, the midterms were just a taste of what's to come in 2012, according to New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker. "I know everyone says the election was the Super Bowl and we should all now be in withdrawal but, truth be told, that was just the preseason. The real games have just begun."
Even Washington reporters who cover the news industry aren't seeing a break in the action. "I think withdrawal happens more after a presidential convention than the midterms. The rush. The travel. The intensity of the deadlines you never think you can meet, but do. Always a bit of a letdown to come home," says Betsy Rothstein, editor of FishbowlDC. "But I don't sense any lull," she adds. "Please, can we have a lull?"
Illustration by Ed Wexler for USN&WR.