In one sense, the defeat of the Democrats in Massachusetts has little impact on the strength of Barack Obama’s administration, whose party still easily controls the U.S. Senate, owning 59 of the 100 seats.

But, in another, it’s a shocking vote of no confidence, delivered only one year after millions flooded D.C. to celebrate this president’s inauguration.

Shocking because Massachusetts is arguably the most liberal state in the nation. Shocking because the seat belonged to the late Ted Kennedy, who held it as a Democrat for 47 years and died as perhaps the most visible backer of universal health care in Congress. While the election can’t be reduced down to a simple referendum on health reform, that issue was certainly a strong factor, especially as Media attention swelled and lobby groups for and against the bill saturated the airwaves with ads.

In this sense, the damage to Obama is very real.

Republicans are profiting from potent dissatisfaction with status quo policies, fueled by prolonged recession and a democratically-unresponsive political establishment, but their agenda remains deeply unpopular (Americans’ memories aren’t quite that short).

This means that, unless Obama and the Democratic Party drastically reshape their approach, they will continue to lose their base. If that’s the case, who will provide the corrective course that the American people have so eagerly voted for in 2006, 2008 and, now, 2010? Where does the political momentum lead?


  1. Chris

    Good post. I’ve got a post coming in the afternoon which fleshes out my thoughts on the election. The short version is that I think this election was mostly a reaction to the craptastic economy. The Democrats need to make progress on getting Americans back to work, or this is only the beginning of their pain.

  2. I agree…this is a good post…I also have added my reflections on this election on Info Ink…..this was NOT an indictment on Obama’s policies just a really crappy campaign by the Dem….

  3. Ian

    It doesn’t really matter what the GOP or Democrat policy was. People always just vote for the other party when they are unhappy with the current situation. They somehow think that those guys will do better than the ones we currently have, but they forget what those guys did when they had their chance. The two-party system only serves to maintain the status quo.