Some reflections on the revolution of 2010, based on extended examination of the election returns.
Gentry liberals. The tsunami swept from the George Washington Bridge to the Donner Pass, but didn't wash away affluent liberals to the east and west of these geographic markers. Also surviving were the cannibals -- the public employee unions that are threatening to bankrupt states like California and New York, a prospect that doesn't faze the left-leaning gentry.
In these areas, Republicans picked up one House seat anchored in Staten Island, two in New Hampshire and one in Washington state, and they came close in two California districts wholly or partly in the Central Valley. Gentry liberal territory stayed staunchly Democratic.
Jacksonians. In 2008, Barack Obama ran weakly in lands settled by the Scots-Irish, from the Appalachians southwest to Texas. In 2010, Democrats did even worse there. In Andrew Jackson's home state of Tennessee, Republicans captured two open seats where they didn't even field candidates in 2008; ditto in Bill Clinton's home state of Arkansas.
In southwest Virginia, a 28-year veteran Democrat was beaten after voting for Henry Waxman's cap-and-trade bill. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin won Robert Byrd's Senate seat by running an ad showing him shooting a rifle bullet through a copy of the bill.
Germano-Scandinavian America. The Upper Midwest, settled largely by German and Scandinavian immigrants, has long been the most pacifist, isolationist and dovish part of the United States. That's one reason Barack Obama did well in caucuses and primaries and in the general election in 2008 in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. He even made it a close race in the Dakotas.
But that appeal seems to have vanished this year. Perhaps dovish voters, dismayed that he kept troops in Iraq, sent more troops to Afghanistan and failed to close Guantanamo, decided to vote on others issues on which they did not agree with Democrats. Republicans won up and down the line in Wisconsin, won big majorities in the Minnesota legislature, unseated two formerly popular congressmen-at-large in the Dakotas and recaptured the Iowa governorship after a dozen years.
The industrial heartland. The longstanding rule in American politics is that in times of economic distress the industrial heartland -- the Rust Belt -- trends toward the Democrats. Voters evidently see more government spending as a solution.
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