Although there are still some races that are too close to call, the general outlines of the 2010 election are clear. It was a bad night for Democrats at the hands of voters who wanted to send a message — and did.
In Ohio, the entire slate of statewide offices went Republican. John Kasich ousted Governor Ted Strickland in a very close contest. I think Strickland was generally perceived to be a good man who was caught up in larger forces not of his making, and the fact that the contest was as close as it was reflected that. Now Kasich will need to grapple with the state’s pressing budget issues. The Republican sweep means that Republicans will control the state redistricting process and also means that other capable officeholders, such as Attorney General Richard Cordray, will be leaving office.
In federal races, the results in Ohio mirrored those in America as a whole. The Republicans handily won the race for the U.S. Senate seat in Ohio and knocked off a number of Democratic incumbents in contests for seats in the House of Representatives. Nationally, the Republicans picked up at least six Senate seats and 60 House seats. Although some Democratic Senators, like Majority Leader Harry Reid, managed to hold on to their seats, a series of long-time Democratic Representatives went down to defeat.
The voters have served their message to their representatives, and the ball is now in President Obama’s court. He will begin to respond at a press conference today, although the real test will come when the talking ends and the governing begins — and that includes the decisions that are made in any post-election, “lame duck” session of the current Congress.
I hope the President avoids the temptation to rationalize the results as a reflection of a “know-nothing” electorate or to blame the results on economic conditions caused by others and instead sincerely accepts the undeniable fact that American voters are not happy with the direction in which the President is steering this country and want him to change course. They think he has overreached. His challenge now will be to find areas of common ground with the voters and members of Congress who are worried about overspending, explosive growth in our national debt, and intrusive government.