Long before election day, the Legends that would be told about the 2010 mid-terms had been written. Undoubtedly crafted by those they would best serve, the legends were accepted by a gullible public and an infantile media, as a shiny object tossed on the ground might entrance a simpleton. They repeated the Legends until they had the force of truth: Republicans are running record numbers of women! — We will throw the all bums out! — Politics has been transformed by the rise of a new party, the Tea Party!
To find truth, the great mathematician, Karl Friedrich Gauss, urged “whenever possible, one should count.” That is the difference between Data and Lore, between an enlightened world and a primitive one. And, when one actually counts the results of the 2010 elections, the Legends fall and the Truth is revealed.
This Was No “Year of the Woman”
Legend tells us that the GOP, spearheaded by the TP, was running vast numbers of women, while Democrats had abandoned female candidates. This wave of new Republican women in office would rival the gains of 1992’s “Year of the Woman.” Based at least in part on this belief, significant numbers of women voters shifted their traditional support from the Dems to the GOP. They were deluded.
Despite a handful of prominent TP female candidates, and a spike in Republican women running for office, women are still woefully underrepresented in the GOP. As in prior years, 2010 saw women Democrats outnumber their red sisters two-to-one.
party S H G tot F GT pct of GT
Dem 9 91 5 105 484 22%
GOP 5 47 5 57 504 11%
(Senate, House, Governor; total female, grand total all candidates, female percentage of grand total. Differences in grand totals reflect unopposed seats.)
As academician, author and former congressional candidate Jennifer Lawless observes, since 77% of the women in Congress were among the vulnerable Democrats, it would have required a vast upswing in female GOP candidates to improve gender balance. Despite the hype, that didn’t happen. In fact, the RNC “ran women in only three of the 30 races that presented the best opportunities to gain seats.” For the first time in thirty years, the number of women in Congress will actually decrease. Adding insult to injury, “early reports of the new Republican leadership include no women’s names.”
A sub-legend has it that the GOP also ran many more minorities. This, too, is myth. Beyond a couple of prominent minority TPers, the face of the Republican Party remained overwhelmingly male WASP. Only 3 of 37 GOP Senate candidates could be described as minority. One telling stat: for Congress the GOP ran three times as many white men named “Smith” (6) as it did black women (2).
The “Bums” Are Still Here
During the 2010 campaign a meme, Rovian in its evil genius, took hold: ‘throw all the bums out!’ Given that most of the incumbents up for reelection were Dems, the spread of this mantra could only help the GOP. Unsurprisingly, 53 Dems but only 2 Republicans were unseated in the House. Many of these were freshmen in traditionally red districts, blown in by the storm of 2008, vulnerable to the slightest change in wind.
In the Senate, incumbents ran in 23 of the 37 races; 2 lost. In the House, 378 of the 435 races — 87% — saw incumbents defend their seats. Twenty-six of them (4 Dem, 22 GOP) ran unopposed. The rest did extremely well:
House Incumbents, 2010 Mid-Terms
party Tot W L win pct
Dems 231 179 52 77%
GOP 147 145 2 99%
Both 378 324 54 86%
The numbers don’t lie: in a year when the voters swore to ‘throw out the all bums’, they instead brought back nine incumbents in ten. A full three-quarters of the new House will be comprised of these old “bums”.
There is No Tea Party
Legend has it, in 2010 the Tea Party fielded a long slate of newcomers who were swept into office and instantly transformed not only the GOP but the entire political landscape. Counting tells another story.
The three major TP factions (Palin, Freedomworks, Tea Party Express) issuing endorsements mostly disagreed on who rated as a “genuine” TP candidate. But looking at the largest slate, that of the Tea Party Express (TPX), it’s hard to detect the revolutionary wave spoken of in the sagas.
In the Senate, TPX endorsements went 10 for 15. Four of those winners, though, were long-time incumbents, including John Thune, who ran unopposed. Newbies went 6 for 11, including two of the six pickups. Of 67 total GOP pick-ups in the House, only 28 were endorsed by TPX. Forty-nine incumbents, five running unopposed, were on the TPX slate. Only about 4 in 10 of the ousted Dem incumbents (22 of 51) lost to a TPX-endorsed opponent, whereas 28 of 37 of the rookie TPX winners were found in those vulnerable Dem districts. Did the Tea Party make those seats vulnerable, or did it merely prey on the already weak?
Newly-minted TP members will comprise but 8.5% of the next House and 6% of the next Senate. In the final analysis, it seems that the Tea Party is less a new party or faction, than a new name for the old right wing of the Republican Party.
Falling for the Legends
Political extremists have long known the power of the Big Lie. The Legends of the 2010 Mid-Terms are whoppers. When an incredulous public, egged on by the mindless parrots of the media, accept these lies, they exert an influence the truth would otherwise deny them. Don’t fall for the Legends. Count before you believe.
(c) 2010 by ‘tamerlane.’ All rights reserved.
Do you think there could be 7 or 8% of Congress elected from third parties in the coming decade, say, if enough of us angered at both parties had an alternative that was funded and backed, despite the lack of “campaign reform” and the rise of “anonymous donors”? If so, would these 3Pers wind up as marginalized as the TP will be within the GOP, or the “independents” now as two Senators are as de facto Dems?
Only if regional break-away wings of the Dem and/or GOP formed.
This post is fantastic. That is all.
Excellent analysis. I was surprised by the statistics. I don’t usually fall for media spin, but your numbers surprised me. Thank you for all of the work that went into this post. You never fail to make me think.
This is a great post Tamer that highlights the reality of the real effects of the Teaparty, instead of the hyperbole of Mid-Term Congressional elections being laddled out by the MSM.
I realized the TP was a fraud when it didn’t evolve into a full throated rebellion against both parties.
Not a single election endorsement from the TP was offered to a conservative democrat. In fact, in my state of residence the TP targeted the DINO Bluedogs and won a couple of seats in the process.
And your point about the TP/GOP and women is well taken. The Sarah Palin/TP support of Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, in a seat they had a chance to win with a moderate female candidate, proves that they are ultra-religious conservatives who are more interested in furthering their religious agenda than electing women. The backing of Sharron Angle solidifies that opinion. The backing of Carly Fiorina spoke to their ignorance in believing that with enough money they could knock-off a liberal woman by running a rich anti-choice/anti-gay woman, (who funded much of her own campaign)in a state that is traditionally liberal. But the real clue that the TP/GOP had no interest in electing women came with the TP/Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Joe Miller. Sarah Palin was more interested in her personal vendetta against Lisa Murkowski (A FEMALE REPUBLICAN INCUMBENT) than in supporting a GOP Woman who could win.
“In the final analysis, it seems that the Tea Party is less a new party or faction, than a new name for the old right wing of the Republican Party.”
So true. A resurrection of the Moral Majority is what and who they are. Thanks for the great article.
I have heard that many, if not most (and maybe most) Tea Partiers are going to fight back to PROTECT Social Security against any Republican or Democratic moves to harm that program.
I’ll take that help if it is forthcoming.