States should start getting along better with Congress. Issues that congressional Democrats are touting, such as stem cell research and a minimum wage increase, have already taken root in many states.
Arnold Schwarzenegger said yesterday that he welcomed the congressional change.
"I think it's good that there are new ideas and new blood, because Washington was stuck," he said. "They could not move forward. Not much was accomplished. I think it was terrible."
There are a couple of particular areas where governors will be especially glad to have new negotiating partners on the Hill. One is the No Child Left Behind school testing law, which is due for a rewrite next year. The other is immigration. House Democrats are more likely to go along with a relatively lenient approach favored by President Bush and the Senate this year, making a deal more likely.
And it looks like states can count on a new ally within the Republican leadership as well. Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander is claiming enough support to serve as GOP whip, the number two position. His opponent, Rick Santorum, lost his seat on Tuesday.
Alexander has been a great champion of the states and federalism. His rise means such concerns will at least get more of a hearing than has often been true in the recent past.
It makes sense that Republicans were able to make gains this year in Oklahoma and Montana. Oklahoma is a conservative state and the Montana legislature is one of those that changes hands with some frequency.
But does it have any particular meaning that most of the legislative chambers that Democrats took were in the Upper Midwest?
Some of them were fluky. A few seats switched in the Indiana House, giving Democrats control. But those turned on purely local issues like a toll road and daylight savings time.
I'm not sure if there was some sort of realigning trend that accounts for the flip of the Wisconsin Senate, the two Iowa chambers or the Minnesota House, where Democrats really romped.
The other chambers that went Democratic -- the Oregon Senate and the entire New Hampshire legislature -- are in states that have trended toward the Democrats at other levels. Democrats also did well in Vermont, picking up 10 House seats, although not the majority.
Democrats gained a mind-boggling 87 seats in the New Hampshire House to take the chamber for the first time since the 1920s. But what does that even mean in a small state with a 400-state legislature? How can you parse that many tiny races?
Maybe we'll figure this all out today at the conference Governing is cosponsoring with NCSL.
I'm not a great believer in the idea that foul language should necessarily be more prevalent on a blog than in a print publication. But I do have a quote I want to share that I know I can't get into our magazine.
I was talking with Alan Rosenthal, a Rutgers political scientist and author of several books about state government. I raised the idea that governors can come out of this election with greater policy ambitions than in 2002, when they all ran headlong into big budget deficits.
Alan makes a good point in response, and I think the naughty word in question kind of inspired him to riff:
"I think because the budgetary situations are okay, they have some running room. Also, the public isn't pissed at them. The public is too busy being pissed at Bush.
"Maybe the fact that people are so pissed at Bush takes the heat off of governors. They don't give politics enough time to be pissed at the governor as well as the president."
In one obvious way, Tuesday wasn't good for gays: Seven states passed constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. Arizona was the exception, where voters rejected a marriage ban -- the only state to do so in the more than two dozen that have voted on bans in recent elections.
But there are a couple other aspects of Election 2006 that are wins for gays. First, Massachusetts voters resoudingly supported a candidate, Deval Patrick, who supports gay marriage. (His challenger, Kerry Healey, supported a constitutional ban.)
Even more telling was the record-setting number of openly gay candidates who were elected to state and local offices this year. Sixty-seven out gays and lesbians were voted into office (out of 88 who ran), according to a press release from the Victory Fund.
What does it mean to claim victory before others declare you the winner? I think it's another symptom of our bruising, in-your-face political culture.
The Montana Senate seat has been called for Tester, the Democrat. That leaves us at 50D-49R, waiting on Virginia (and/or Dick Cheney) to break the possible tie.
Here is a link to Jim Webb's victory speech last night. (Note that S.R. "Macaca" Sidarth is on stage behind him).
Several TV commentators last night called it bad form for Webb to have claimed victory ahead of George Allen's concession, which hasn't come and may not come until after a recount. They also raised questions about Claire McCaskill, in Missouri, who made a victory speech before Senator Jim Talent could concede, as well as Martin O'Malley, who didn't get Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich's call until this morning.
Why couldn't they just wait?
I think it goes back, like so many things, to Florida 2000.
"If Democrats act as problem solvers, not polarizers, that future will be very bright. That last point was underscored by Joe Lieberman's re-election victory in Connecticut, which helps solidify the Democratic Party's credentials as a broad, inclusive coalition able to compete for the vital center of American politics."
Gee, I seem to remember reading something about Lieberman losing the Democratic primary, and that being a signal that the party was too ideological and unyielding.