1. It was a genuinely good night for the Republicans in Virginia. The main reason was a solid, non-stupid, unalienating candidate for governor. It's amazing how badly the GOP just screwed up in 2006 and 2008 in the Commonwealth. McDonald doesn't quite reach the pay grade of presidential material, but it's reassuring to see a savvy social conservative in office.
2. The NY 23rd was an unforced error for Republicans. It was also NPR's favorite election this morning. The seat wasn't lost because of some conservative-moderate split, but because nobody was watching the locals picked a woman who couldn't win. And then too much hope was placed in Hoffman, who is a real conservative but also had real liabilities.
3. New Jersey was mainly tossing out a justly unpopular incumbent.
4. The electorate was much more white and old han in 2008. That'll be less so in 2010 and much less so, of course, in 2012.
5. The independents switched big-time in the Republican direction. The issue of BIG GOVERNMENT moved them more than it has lately. But there's also no denying that they seem to be all about CHANGE, which of course helped the president last time and hurt the Democrats this time. (The power of indiscriminate CHANGE can be seen in Bloomberg's narrow escape, despite spending his guts out and actually being a really good mayor.)
6. All the studies show that the president remains personally popular, but there's increased suspicion about his policies. That really mean that what people want changed, most of all, is the huge Democratic majorities in Congress.
7. The Republicans should be gearing up for a campaign for divided government to, among other things, make Obama a better president. Democrats and other Obama-philiacs should be reassured that it was the Republican victory in 1994 that improved Clinton's performance enough to gain easy reelection in 1996. Republicans should quote Democrats on the virtues of divided government when Bush and Reagan were president. They should popularize the studies that show that divided government is best for controlling spending.
8. Huge Republican gains in Congress in 2010 are possible with the right kind of campaign. But 2012 remains a more formidable challenge in the absence of national disaster. There still aren't any Republican national leaders. Eric Cantor is just too short, for one thing.
9. It goes without saying that Republicans should use the shift in the voting behavior of independents to do what they can to scare moderate Democrats on health care.