Webb Wins in Virginia! Democrats Complete Election Sweep of Congress!

The Associated Press says so. Democrats completed an improbable double-barreled election sweep of Congress on Wednesday, taking control of the Senate with a victory in Virginia as they padded their day-old majority in the House.

Jim Webb’s victory over Sen. George Allen in Virginia assured Democrats of 51 seats when the Senate convenes in January. That marked a gain of six in midterm elections in which the war in Iraq and President Bush were major issues.

Earlier, State Sen. Jon Tester triumphed over Republican Sen. Conrad Burns in a long, late count in Montana.

With a handful of House races too close to call, Democrats had gained 28 seats, enough to regain the majority after 12 years of Republican rule and place Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California in line to become the first female speaker in history.

“It was a thumping,” Bush conceded at the White House. “It’s clear the Democrat Party had a good night.”

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E.J. Dionne has a fantastic piece this morning that is actually worth your valuable time:

It’s over. American voters, in their wisdom, ended an era on Tuesday. They rejected a poorly conceived war policy in Iraq that has weakened the United States. They rejected a harshly ideological approach to politics that cast opponents as enemies of the country’s survival.

They rejected a president so determined to win that he was willing to slander his opponents by saying: “The Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses.”

No longer will the national tragedy of Sept. 11 be used to undermine the opposition party. It was only after he was forced to do so by an electoral defeat that President Bush on Wednesday called for genuine bipartisanship. Imagine what the world would look like if he had done that a year or two ago. And no longer will we pay attention to political strategists who assert that swing voters aren’t important, and that independents and moderates don’t matter.

This election was the revenge of the center no less than it was the revenge of the left. The decisive votes cast on Tuesday came from moderates and independents whom the exit polls showed favoring Democratic House candidates by margins of about 3-to-2.

Nancy Pelosi and the other Democratic leaders face a genuinely complicated political calculus. On the one hand, Democrats would not have won without the intense dedication of their partisan and ideological base. But many of the party’s successful candidates ran as moderates, and Democrats hold power on the basis of a loan of votes from middle-of-the-road Americans who simply could not stomach Bush Republicanism anymore.

The good news for Democrats is that their candidates, moderates and liberals alike, ran on two common themes: that the Bush Iraq policy had to change, and that the Washington Establishment simply does not understand the personal struggles and economic insecurities confronting so many Americans.

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Rush Limbaugh, conservative Republican waterboy, drug addict, and takshow host, now believes the thumping his party took is a good thing. Really…

The way I feel is this: I feel liberated, and I’m going to tell you as plainly as I can why. I no longer am going to have to carry the water for people who I don’t think deserve having their water carried.

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Morton M. Kondracke at RollCall has exiting polling data that he says makes the message of 2006 perfectly clear: Moderates Fed Up With Polarization.

The 2006 election results were a rebuke not just to President Bush and Congressional Republicans but to radio talk-show hosts and other right-wing polarizers.

The right managed to win seven more anti-gay marriage referendums across the country, but it was repudiated on Iraq, immigration and excessive religiosity.

At the same time, while Democrats won control of the House and possibly the Senate, they did so by capturing the votes of moderates and independents, whom they could lose easily with demonstrations of wretched excess.

It’s encouraging that Bush and incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and likely Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) are talking the language of bipartisan cooperation, but Democrats will be strongly tempted to exercise their passions against the president and his policies.

Exit polls showed that, once again, self-identified moderates made up a near-majority of the electorate — 47 percent — and this group split 62 percent to 36 percent Democratic — a 9-point Democratic gain from 2002 and 8 points above 2004.

Only 21 percent of voters identified themselves as liberals and 32 percent as conservatives. Liberals supported Democrats nearly 90 percent of the time, while conservatives voted Republican by less than 80 percent.

While Republican and Democratic candidates held their partisan base voters by margins above 90 percent, independents went Democratic by a margin of 58 percent to 38 percent, a 10-point gain over 2002 and 9 points over 2004…

The loudest message from the elections is that the nation wants a change of policy in Iraq. By a margin of 57 percent to 41 percent, voters said they oppose the war.

By 59 percent to 34 percent, voters said the war has not improved American security, and by 56 percent to 37 percent, they called for withdrawal of some or all U.S. troops, as opposed to maintaining current levels or sending more.

Yet full withdrawal is a distinct minority position — 30 percent — and Democrats won’t have the country’s support if they force it. Encouragingly, they say they won’t.

The clearest repudiation of the loud right came on the issue of immigration. By a margin of 57 percent to 38 percent, voters said they wanted illegal immigrants who work in the U.S. to be allowed a chance to apply for legal status and not be deported.

Voters in Arizona rejected two of the nation’s most vociferous immigration restrictionists, Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R) and Minuteman founder Randy Graf (R).

House Republicans massively bought into the talk-show claque’s agenda by rejecting Bush’s Latino-friendly proposal for comprehensive immigration reform, and they’ve suffered important damage as a result.

Bush managed to capture 44 percent of the Latino vote in 2004, according to disputed exit polls, but this year Hispanics went Democratic by a margin of 72 percent to 27 percent, 10 points higher than in 2002.

If Republicans and Democrats are looking for an issue around which to demonstrate they can unify and accomplish something, they could use the lame-duck session of Congress to pass the comprehensive Senate immigration bill.

The exit polls also suggest that a revolt took place this year against the right’s infusion of religious dogma into politics — as in the effort to keep brain-damaged Terri Schiavo alive and Bush’s veto of expanded federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research.

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