Election-Day Analysis of the Midterm Vote Polls across the country continue to close, and patterns are emerging. E.J. Dionne, columnist for The Washington Post, and Matthew Continetti, a staff writer at The Weekly Standard weigh in on today's election results.

Election-Day Analysis of the Midterm Vote

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Joining us now for some analysis of today's election, E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and The Brookings Institution. And Matt Continetti. He's a staff writer for The Weekly Standard. Hello to both of you.

Mr. E.J. DIONNE (The Brookings Institution): Howdy.

Mr. MATT CONTINETTI (The Weekly Standard): Hi.

NORRIS: You know we - actually before we go on, I should say that we can call another race. NPR is projecting a victory for Brad Ellsworth. He seems to have defeated John Hostettler in Indiana's eighth district.

E.J., I want to begin with you. Are you seeing this Democratic wave that so many analysts were predicting going into this election?

Mr. DIONNE: Well, we haven't seen it fully yet, but it sure seems to be building. Looking at a number of these races. The Hostettler race was one the Democrats had to win. But you're also seeing Anne Northup in Kentucky in some trouble. She's running behind. It's still close. If she loses, I think that's a bellwether of a pretty good Democratic night.

In Hampshire, you're seeing Charlie Bass losing to Paul Hodes. That was an important pickup. That would be an important pickup for the Democrats. You're seeing the other Indiana races quite tight. I think both of them right now are tight. So that, you know, what it would take to stop the wave, I think, are a number of miracles where the Republicans would have to win all these races that are emerging as close. So I think the indications are Democratic.

If I could just pick one fact out from the exit polling in Ohio, you've really seen defections tonight from one party or the other. According to the exit poll, 21 percent of the people in Ohio who voted for President Bush went out today and voted for Sherrod Brown, a very liberal Democrat, against Senator Mike Dewine. I think that is an indicative number, certainly in Ohio, which has had a lot of economic problems, as well as having a lot of people opposed to the war.

NORRIS: Matt, Republicans seem to have much to ring their hands about tonight, but it seems like they would be particularly worried looking at what's going on in Ohio right now.

Mr. CONTINETTI: Well, we see here, I think it's a repudiation of the Karl Rove/Matt Dowd thesis that there are no more swing voters. What we're seeing is now there's a huge group of independents, actually, that's emerged over the last two years. They've become dislodged from the Bush alliance, you might call it. And they're searching for alternatives than the Democratic Party.

You know, there'll be a lot of comparisons, Michelle, between this election and the 1994 election. In 1994, no Republican incumbent lost. And there are some opportunities, though, for Republicans to defeat Democratic incumbents tonight. So the 1994 comparisons may be a stretch going forward.

NORRIS: It seems like it might be difficult, though, to discern trends. It was one thing going on Ohio. We're hearing from our reporters in Missouri that stem cells, for instance, were very important there, seemed to trump issues about the war. So value sort of trumped some of those national or global issues. So it seems like it might be a little bit difficult to make those kind of predictions.

Mr. DIONNE: I don't think anything will completely trump the war in any of these states. Clearly the stem cell issue was important in Missouri, because they have a referendum on the ballot. But I think when we look more at the exit polling from there, I think you'll find that Iraq was still a major issue.

But Matt made, I think, one of the central points of tonight, which is the Rove strategy that said there are no swing voters. Moderates don't matter. Exit polls suggest that moderates are going better than three to two Democratic, and independents are going better than three to two Democratic tonight.

And so I think it is in part, it's not only the revenge of the left, which will be happy to see Republicans lose. It's also the reveng eof the center against this strategy that was kind of trying to squeeze them out.

NORRIS: You know, what's interesting about this race is in another two years, you know, we see twice the number of Senate seats up, you know, all the House members will be up again. So if we're projecting some sort of wave, what does that tell us about the next cycle if we're allowed to even talk about that yet?

Mr. CONTINETTI: You know, as we see this polarization, this great ideological sorting of the Democratic and the Republican Parties, a conservative party and a liberal party, we also have this major group in the center, and I think they're gonna swing back and forth. They may be with the Democrats tonight. In 2008, they may swing back to the Republicans.

Mr. DIONNE: But only if the Republicans change themselves.

NORRIS: Change themselves?

Mr. DIONNE: I spoke to -

Mr. CONTINETTI: The atmosphere can change, too.

Mr. DIONNE: The atmosphere has to change, but I think they can't look as extreme. I talked to a Republican today who said look, we're gonna lose the House. If we lose only 20 seats, it won't be that hard to pick it up again two years from now. If we lose 30 seats or more, that really begins to affect their chances two years from now of winning it back. And we'll see which end the night ends on.

NORRIS: We'll have to end there. E.J. Dionne of the Washtington Post, Matt Continetti with the Weekly Standard, thanks to both of you.

Mr. DIONNE: Thank you.

Mr. CONTINETTI: Thank you.

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