Commentary: The Losers
K Street lobbyists: With Pelosi promising to help run the cleanest Congress in historyshe does have her work cut out for herwhat will become of the poor lobbyists who lined their pockets under disgraced former GOP Rep. Tom DeLay's brainchild: the K Street Project, which packed firms with GOP-friendly supplicants? Not to worry. Lobbyists are pliant, if anything, and Dem operatives are already well into plotting their influence-peddling strategy. Watch for new offices and new alliances forming soon.
GOP stranglehold on "values voters": The Democrats' grab of 29 percent of the white evangelical vote Tuesday may not seem like a big deal. But it's a huge improvement over 2004, when presidential candidate John Kerry attracted just 21 percent of such voters, who accounted for roughly a quarter of the electorate in both elections. The Mark Foley page scandal made the difference, Democratic National Committee pollster Cornell Belcher said, opening a lead among "values" voters for Dems not seen since the Abramoff scandal exploded last year. Some conservative evangelicals were forced to agree. "It was the values gapscandal and corruptionthat influenced people when they pulled the lever," said Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group.
Scandal taint: The voters, much to the Republicans' chagrin, had not forgotten the tales of graft associated with the GOP's favorite and now prisonbound lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Nor were they willing to absolve Republican leadership of its role in shielding Florida Rep. Mark Foley's sexually inappropriate communications with teenage House pages.
Presidential aspirations: The macaca incidentand his deadlocked Senate battlesink Oval Office hopes of good 'ol (California) boy, Virginia's Republican Sen. George Allen. And a mangled "joke" that insulted U.S. soldiers in Iraq all but ensured Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry a place on the 2008 ticketfor U.S. Senate.
All politics is local: That truism just didn't seem to hold water this time around. Exit polls show that Tuesday's voters were motivated, in about equal measure, by political corruption, the economy, terrorism, and Iraq.
Christian right and its cultural agenda: The right has been complaining about lack of action on its issues under the current GOP-controlled Congress. But they definitely aren't going to like this new world order.
Stay the course: The Bush administration policy in Iraq takes down venerable incumbents who support itincluding the Senate's third-ranking Republican, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. Connecticut Rep. Christopher Shays, who supports the Iraq war, managed to eke out a victory, but Republicans across the country felt voter anger and frustration with the deadly chaos overseas.
Fence companies: What 700-mile border fence contract? The changeover in the House will be a boon to Senate-style immigration reform, including the Bush-supported guest-worker program. Bush hinted the day after the election that this could very well be one area in which the ever elusive culture of bipartisanship may be nurtured.
Conservative judicial nominees: Conservatives were banking on two more years of Senate controltime enough, they believed, for at least one of the Supreme Court's aging liberal judges to step down, giving the president a third conservative nominee. That plan is out the window, as are the ambitions of a number of very conservative federal court nominees whom Democrats have already balked at confirming.
Republican moderates: In New England, antiwar Sen. Lincoln Chafee goes down, along with Rep. Nancy Johnson of Connecticut, and maybe even her colleague from the same state, Rep. Rob Simmons. It makes Bush's promise of an "active final two years" look even more far-fetched.
Republican Speaker Denny Hastert: In a pre-emptive strike, he announces post-election that he won't run for minority leader when Dems take over in the new year. So it's back to backbencher for the former wrestling coach, who many claimed didn't take appropriate action when information about Mark Foley's inappropriate contacts with House pages was brought to the speaker's office.
GOP strategists Karl Rove, Ken Mehlman, and Tom Reynolds: That giant flushing sound? Newt's Republican revolution. Regroup, gentlemen.
Saddam Hussein: His conviction didn't help the GOP win, but he'll hang anywaybut maybe not until 2008.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: And pfffft, he's gone.
Contributors: Dan Gilgoff, Bret Schulte, Marianne Lavelle, and Angie C. Marek