If you need a cheap buzz right now, start trolling the liberal blogs. They're not just delirious about the size of their gains. There's a sense that Karl Rove, built up by reporters (and, let's face it, by John Kerry's campaign skills) as a history-shifting political genius, has been utterly crushed. Plenty of linking to this retrospectively hilarious Fred Barnes fluffer on the Man Who Knew Too Much About Joe Wilson, which ran shortly after 2004 (Via Oliver Willis).
Even by the cautious reckoning of Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser, Republicans now have both an operational majority in Washington (control of the White House, Senate, and the House of Representatives) and an ideological majority in the country (51 percent popular vote for a center-right president). They also control a majority of governorships, a plurality of state legislatures, and are at rough parity with Democrats in the number of state legislators. Rove says that under Bush a "rolling realignment" favoring Republicans continues, and he's right. So Republican hegemony in America is now expected to last for years, maybe decades.
It's kind of amazing Republicans ever believed this crap. The 2004 Bush victory wouldn't have happened without 1)residual 9/11 angst, 2)enhanced GOP turnout, and 3)Kerry. (It could have happened with a candidate Sharpton too, but I think my point is clear.) And the GOP wouldn't have gained seats in the House and Senate if not for Southern Senate retirements and Texas gerrymandering—Democrats basically broke even outside the South, actually gaining seats in Illinois and Colorado.
That's not preventing a rush of counter-spin from Republicans who claim this election is a temporary setback to the coming permanent majority. If the Republicans really think this—especially if they re-elect their current floor leaders—they're not going to staunch the party's bleeding in the West, Midwest and Northeast. Take a look at the Senate. In 2008, Republicans will be defending the low-hanging fruit they won in 2002 when the Iraq war buildup boosted the president's popularity everywhere—Minnesota, Oregon, Maine, Colorado. They have to hold New Hampshire, which is still shuddering from the Democratic landslide that nuked two congressman and both Houses of the state legislature on Tuesday. The churning conventional wisdom about this Democratic majority coming in on the backs of "conservative Democrats" is a false promise for Republicans. As I wrote that, Fox News' John Gibson tried to argue that the new Democrats were conservatives in disguise because some of them were "ex-military." Really, if that's the mentality, the Democrats are going to keep making the sale to libertarian-minded voters.