Since Schramm is off in a different time zone, I get the first shot at making sense of the Landrieu win. The talk show pundits yesterday universally spoke of it as being a huge victory for the Democrats. To the extent that it showed that they are still on life support, I agree. If Landrieu would have lost, it would have been difficult to view this election cycle as anything but cataclysmic for the Democratics; now it is simply a disaster.
A few bits of the conventional wisdom on this do seem right. First, the victory was the result of massive Black voter turnout. This seems consistent with recent election trends, and suggests once again that Democrats in 2004 are going to need to offer some incentive--be it a VP nominee or top cabinet positions, or a legislative agenda aimed at increasing minority admissions to universities--in order to energize this voting base.
Second, as Bill Kristol noted on Sunday, the timing of Bushs sacking of the key economic advisors was poor. To have the ousting of ONeill and Lindsey be the headline on election day was not good thinking by the Bushies. They should have waited till at least Sunday to drop the news.
Finally, the Republicans arguably got too cocky toward the end. While the Republicans were bringing the big guns into the state, Donna Brazile was working behind the scenes to whip the grassroots vote, and it paid dividends.
It is somewhat disappointing to lose the runoff (which no one thought we would win before November 5), if for no other reason that this is the last memory of this election cycle. That said, it is ordinarily not seen as a great accomplishment to hold a Senate seat, and to lose control of the Senate.
Dont jump to any conclusions yet. I went to the Sec of State website on Saturday night early ( Terrell was still leading) and was struck by the fact that she did not have commanding leads in many small rural counties. Sure enough New Orleans came in heavy for Landrieu and she was toast.
I think it may be a Cooksey factor. Cooksey continued to grumble about how he was treated by Terrell and refused to endorse her. It was his seat that the Dems captured in what is reported to be a heavily consevative area.
One other note on the uniqueness of Louisiana. It is 31% black. The US by contrast is 12.4% black ( only 11% is over 18). To win by 1% as a sitting Senator with over a quarter of the vote locked in for you, is no great accomplishment and I would not feel all that comforted by it if I was a Dem ( which I most assuredly am not!)