* Sensible anti-Obama candidates. The vast majority of the GOP House winners were common sense conservatives who took advantage of the disaffection with Obama's policies. Bigger gains than 1994 is highly significant.
* The public. They were pissed off and they stopped one-party government.
* Obama's policies, by and large. The public was ignored by the administration regarding many of its biggest initiatives and the public sent a strong message.
* The state of California. The most populous state in the Union voted to keep Barbara Boxer in the Senate and rehash "Moonbeam" Jerry Brown as its governor? The state is in dire straits, and they turn aside very politically attractive candidates Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman? They deserve whatever comes their way.
* The Tea Party. Its candidates were most significantly represented in some key Senate match-ups across the country. The biggest success by far was Marco Rubio in Florida. The biggest loser was Sharron Angle in Nevada, allowing the risible Harry Reid to remain in the Senate. And it appears that Sarah Palin's US Senate pick in Alaska, Jim Miller, is going to lose to former GOPer-turned write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski.
If Delaware's own Christine O'Donnell's candidacy is any indicator, Nevadans and Alaskans suffered a similar fate with Angle and Miller (albeit to a much lesser extent). As I've noted here at Colossus numerous times over the last couple months, O'Donnell was an awful candidate. Being a native Delawarean all my life allowed me to have a more intimate knowledge of the minutiae surrounding O'D's campaign than a casual observer somewhere else. So, if Angle's and Miller's campaigns were in any way similar -- and they were in some respects (the locals would certainly know better than I) -- that would account for their losses. Clearly, if [Tea Party] Delaware and Nevada had chosen better, they would have fared better.
The idea behind the Tea Party remains a good one, certainly, but its disciples have to recognize that, although America is a right-center nation, "center" is part of that description! O'Donnell, Angle and (perhaps) Miller were judged more "right" than "center," whereas Marco Rubio was not. Here in Delaware, I understand the desire to replace Mike Castle (as Christine O'Donnell did) but one has to remember the old "battle vs. war" adage. Trashing virtual sure things so that your state becomes bluer than blue is not a winning strategy.
Lastly, how'd I do with my pre-election predictions? I had said:
House: GOP +53 -- looks like I underestimated by roughly ten!
Senate: GOP +8 -- looks as if I'll be 2-3 seats short there.
Upset: Murkowski wins in AK -- currently looks as if this will hold true.
Highest Ranking Loser: Harry Reid -- oops. Ugh.