Tuesday Night Election Takeaway

Republican political consultant Ed Rollins and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., on "Face the Nation," November 8, 2009.
Republican political consultant Ed Rollins and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., on "Face the Nation," November 8, 2009.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said that with the Congressional race in upstate New York's 23rd Congressional District, in which conservative Republicans (such as Sarah Palin and Fred Thompson) pushed the party's own candidate off the ballot by backing a Conservative Party nominee (who ultimately lost), "the civil war that ripped a gaping hole through the Republican Party exposed itself."

Appearing on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, she told host Bob Schieffer, "The Republicans really have demonstrated that they have an internecine battle going on, and it's going to really cause them some problems."

The congresswoman did not believe that the Democratic Party's losses in other races on Tuesday were any sort of referendum on President Obama's influence down-ticket. "In the elections where national issues were on the ballot, in the Congressional District in New York and in California" - where Lt. Gov. John Garamendi won a special election in the 10th District, keeping it in Democratic hands - "both Democratic candidates won, and they ran on health care reform and turning the economy around," she said.

But Tuesday's losses to the GOP "definitely demonstrated that we need to make sure that we focus for the next year and be singularly focused on the issues that matter to the voters, which is the economy," Wasserman Schultz said. She also preached the importance of getting out the vote, so that those who came out for the 2008 presidential election will be back at the polls in the midterms, "to vote for our congressional candidates up and down the ballot next November."

Republican political consultant Ed Rollins said the results of Tuesday's elections, such as the governor races in Virginia and New Jersey which went to the GOP, "the bottom line is what this election was about is that the country is extremely concerned about deficit spending. The president is still popular, but he cannot take his political machine and make it work for other candidates. And I think that was what was proven out."

Likewise the political machine of the GOP did not usher its own hand-picked candidate to victory, but rather allowed its conservative members to sweep her aside. Democratic candidate Bill Owens defeated the Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman by 4% in a district that has been a Republican seat for a century.

Rollins said such inter-party dust-ups are positive: "I think primaries are good things. I find primaries basically create a competition, create a clarity.

"I think we'll win that 4%, we'll win that seat back again. The bottom line here is when you go to the trenches, which is what congressional mid-term elections are about, there's no national themes. If there is, usually it goes against the party that is in power."

"Historically, the party in power always loses seats. I think three times in our history it hasn't happened." Alluding to 40 incumbent Democrats and 10 incumbent Republicans whose seats he deemed to be at risk, he said, "We should pick up.

"The good news for us is we lost two elections in a row, 2006, 2008. We lost more than 20 seats for the first time in 75 years." Tuesday's wins were "a positive sign for us. We have two new governors that can rebuild states and rebuild parties."

Rollins added that, "What's happened is that Republicans are intense. We now think we can win again." Democrats, Rollins said, are "a little disillusioned" and have got to get "back in the game."

Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz said Democrats are ready for next year's midterm elections: "Most of our Democratic incumbents, they are ready. They have Republican primaries set up to run against them as individuals. They're battle-tested. They are out reaching out to their constituents, talking about health care reform, talking about turning the economy around. They're going to be ready . . . for prime-time next time."