National Review Online asked politicos and commentators a series of questions about their top picks and low points from the midterm elections of 2010.
Who was the biggest winner of Election Day 2010?
Who was the biggest loser?
Who was your hero of the midterm election cycle?
What was the most important lesson?
Who do you have the highest hopes for?
Biggest Winner(s): This has to go to Boehner/Sessions and the whole NRCC political team. They broadened the playing field, which created an opportunity to exploit a very positive political environment. They recruited top-flight candidates. They raised money early in a Washington culture that — until the last couple of months — was pretty hostile to and skeptical of the minority party. They also moved the chess pieces around pretty well at the end, effectively exploiting opportunities and taking away resources in areas that didn’t make sense politically.
Biggest Loser: Nancy Pelosi. She sacrificed her colleagues on the altar of her extreme liberal agenda. It was more important for her to expand government and take over the health-care system than to honor the political vulnerabilities of some in her caucus. By indulging her extreme instincts, she lost her majority and she will lose her leadership position.
Hero: Marco Rubio. He was in a tough three-way race. He didn’t sacrifice principle. He ran as a solid conservative. Now as a newly elected senator from a large swing state, he can help the GOP grow its appeal to Hispanic voters nationally. He is the future of the Republican party.
Most Important Lesson: Two lessons. America is a center-right country. Talk of a lurch toward liberalism following the 2008 election was the progressives’ pipe dream. Second, Americans reacted more against this misunderstanding on the part of the Democrats than they embraced the Republican brand. As Rubio said, Republicans now have a second chance to brand themselves as the party that embraces and best represents this center-right coalition.
My highest hopes are for John Boehner. He says he wants to run the House differently from the way both the Democrats and the Republicans have done in the past. I believe him. He can do it. He has the experience and commitment to deliver on this promise. And if he succeeds, it will represent real Hope and Change in Washington.
— Gary Andres is vice chairman of research for Dutko Worldwide.
Winner: I’ll go out on a limb and guess that no one else will pick this one: Paul LePage, the new governor of Maine. Great life story of overcoming adversity, great conservative. Who would have thought a year ago that a pro-traditional-marriage, pro-life Republican would win the governorship in Maine and Republicans would take both houses? Last time Republicans had the governorship and legislature in Maine: 1962.
Losers: Iowa supreme court judges Ternus, Baker, and Streit. Historic and unprecedented victory for judicial accountability. Big loss for activist judges. Highlights how wrong the Left is when it claims that voters don’t care about same-sex marriage.
Hero: Marco Rubio. Young, bold, and inspiring.
Lesson: Social issues matter. Not only were the supreme court judges in Iowa defeated, but in key races throughout the country social conservatives won. The notion that Tea Partiers don’t care about social issues is just wrong, but we’ll hear a lot about it today as the progressives try to “frame” this election. The simple fact is that the newly elected Congress will be the most socially conservative Congress in decades.
Highest hopes: It’s important that state candidate after state candidate supporting traditional marriage won, and won big. In New Hampshire, Maine, Minnesota, and Iowa, the state legislatures have dramatically been reshaped with new batches of conservatives. This is the untold story of this election. And Marco Rubio again.
— Brian Brown is president of the National Organization for Marriage.