Tillis’ win or Hagan’s loss?
Elizabeth Dole may have taken particular satisfaction in following election returns Tuesday night. The Salisbury native and longtime public servant lost her seat in the U.S. Senate six years ago to an opponent who claimed Dole voted with President George W. Bush 92 percent of the time.
Tuesday was payback time. Pundits and political scientists will identify many factors in Sen. Kay Hagan’s defeat. But a Tillis ad juxtaposing Hagan’s 2008 statements with her own voting record — agreeing with Obama 96 percent of the time, allegedly — was particularly effective.
Can you say poetic justice?
Of course, if you started to analyze U.S. senators from North Carolina who did not win re-election, you’d be busy for a long time. Sam Ervin was the last Democratic senator from the state to win another term, in 1968. With the exception of Jesse Helms, Republicans have a similar story.
But let’s stick to the present and future. Tom Tillis won a close, $110 million race that will have national repercussions as the GOP takes control of the Senate. The diversity changing the face of North Carolina — indeed, of America — has not been the boon to Democratic candidates that some predicted. And the women’s vote that was expected to bolster Hagan was offset by men supporting Tillis. It was a wash. Identification with the president was a much stronger factor, in a negative way. Did Hagan lose the race by missing some crucial step or did Tillis simply win it on the strength of his record and philosophy? Again, it’s a wash.
Tillis was in a difficult position — portrayed by Democrats as mastermind of draconian budget cuts while tea partiers viewed him as not conservative enough. When he gets to Washington, will he be a moderating influence or opt to fall in behind others? His constituents will be watching with great interest.
Elizabeth Dole’s feelings aside, the best thing about election night was the end of the TV political ads and telephone calls. Dueling attack ads made watching TV much less enjoyable over the past two months. How can something that makes people so unhappy work so effectively?
Anyway, it’s over. From the county commission race to school board to U.S. Senate, voters had solid candidates to consider. Congratulations to the winners and condolences to the losers. Now, let’s work as hard at finding solutions as we did at winning the election.