Each of these winning Democratic candidates took a hard line on illegal immigration, tacking right of President Bush on this issue.
"Illegal immigration costs American taxpayers approximately $70 billion a year in financial assistance for welfare benefits, health care, education and domestic crime-fighting," Shuler said. "I do not support granting amnesty to people who have broken the law."
"I do not support amnesty," said Donnelly. "I support more border agents, increased funding for surveillance and fencing that will prevent immigrants from illegally entering our country."
"We need to tighten our borders, enforce the laws we have and punish employers who break them," said Ellsworth.
Despite the Democratic victory, Red State America is alive and well. The deep cultural divide that caused the Electoral College map to be painted in almost equal blocks of red and blue in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections has not disappeared.
Several factors allowed Democrats to make gains in Red States. One was the Democrats' willingness to run conservatives such as Ellsworth, Donnelly and Shuler in conservative districts. Another was the scandals that plagued the GOP, costing them seats they otherwise would have easily held, including those of convicted Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio and former Reps. Mark Foley of Florida and Tom DeLay of Texas.
But the biggest factor was discontent with the war in Iraq. Had a stable government already been established in Iraq, and were U.S. troops no longer suffering casualties there, the Democrats would have had little chance of winning a majority Tuesday.
But in voting for Democrats like Ellsworth, Donnelly and Shuler, Red State swing voters were not signaling support for a radical pendulum swing to an unrealistic "cut and run" policy.
"We cannot leave a political vacuum in Iraq and threaten to further destabilize the entire region," said Shuler.
America needs a tough, realistic, sustainable, bipartisan foreign policy to protect our interests in the post-9/11 world. This election shows we haven't found that policy yet. It may also show that a policy based on promoting democracy abroad, especially if it requires the use of military force, cannot be sustained for long precisely because we have a democracy here at home.