When the election is over, prizes and trophies and hosannas will be issued left and right. But why wait? As a public service, I present an infallibly prescient scorecard of best and worst of 2010.
Most suicidal candidate. Carl Paladino is running in a deep-blue state with sky-high taxes, yawning deficits, and rampant corruption. The last elected Democratic governor resigned in disgrace and his successor is so tainted that he dare not run for another term. So, what does Kamikaze Carl proceed to do? Get in an angry shouting match with a reporter. Level some odd insinuation about his opponent’s “prowess.” Figuring he hasn’t veered off-message enough, he then expounds on homosexuality — and spends three days having to explain and reaffirm, before the inevitable apology. He’s down by 19 points.
Innocent bystander award. Down-ballot New York State Republicans (see above).
Luckiest guy on the planet. Chris Coons, Delaware. He draws the short straw to run against the anointed Republican establishment candidate Mike Castle, who had never lost a statewide election in twelve tries. Good soldier gamely plays sacrificial lamb — then bingo: Castle stunningly loses the primary. Coons is now up by 18 points.
Unluckiest guy on the planet. Beau Biden (see Delaware, above), groomed for years to inherit his father’s seat. After Castle declared, however, the young Biden decided to forgo the race, citing important unfinished business as attorney general. He must now watch Coons walk off with the family jewel.
Most important socio-demographic trend. The rise of the conservative woman. Sarah Palin’s influence is the most obvious manifestation of the trend. But the bigger story is the coming of age of a whole generation of smart, aggressive Republican women, from the staunchly conservative Nikki Haley (now leading the South Carolina governor’s race) and the stauncher-still Sharron Angle (neck-and-neck with Harry Reid in Nevada) to the more moderate variety in California, where both Carly Fiorina (for Senate) and Meg Whitman (for governor) are within striking distance in a state highly blue and deeply green. And they are not only a force in themselves; they represent an immense constituency that establishment feminism forgot — or disdained.
Most misrepresented socio-demographic trend. Conventional wisdom is that the election is being driven by anger and blind anti-incumbent fervor. Nonsense. Overwhelmingly, it is Democratic incumbents, not Republicans, who are under siege. This is a national revolt against the Democratic governance of the last two years. One must understand that “anger” is the explanation du jour when Republicans win big. The last wave election (1994), for example, was dubbed the Year of the Angry White Male — despite the fact that there was not a scintilla of polling evidence supporting that characterization. Of course the electorate is angry this time around. But it is not inchoate, irrational anger — a “temper tantrum” as ABC News anchor Peter Jennings called the 1994 Republican sweep — but a highly pointed, perfectly rational anger at the ideological overreach and incompetence of the governing Democrats.
Rising star. Marco Rubio, soon-to-be senator from Florida. He has the young Obama ingredients — smart, inspirational, minority (Cuban-American), great life story — for a meteoric rise.
Fastest falling star. Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida. Facing disaster in the Republican primary against Rubio, he becomes an independent, flip-flops on one issue after another, and is now running about 16 points behind. Just two years ago there was talk of him as a Republican vice-presidential candidate. Today he’s nowhere man.
Most shameless attack campaign (national). President Obama suggesting that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is secretly using foreign money to fund its campaign ads. There’s not a shred of evidence that this is true. When Bob Schieffer asked David Axelrod for evidence, Axelrod responded, “Well, do you have any evidence that it’s not, Bob?” That’s like some lunatic claiming that Obama secretly says Muslim prayers at night that no one can see and no one can hear. You ask: What’s your evidence? He says: What’s yours that he is not? You say: No one’s ever seen or heard him do that. He says: Aha, that’s exactly my point.
Most shameless campaign ad (local). Category canceled. Too many entries.
Most irresistible political name. New Hampshire Republican and senatorial primary candidate Ovide Lamontagne. Sounds like a French-Greek poet declaiming in the streets of Nashua. Tragically, he lost.
Ovide, we hardly knew ye.
– Charles Krauthammer is a nationally syndicated columnist. © 2010, The Washington Post Writers Group