I'm not one to think that one night's election results portends some dramatic shift in the electorate. But in light of the dramatic thumping of anti-union legislation in Ohio, or the rejection of a personhood amendment in socially conservative Mississippi, or the defeat in Arizona of anti-immigration crusader Russell Pearce in a special election by a Republican candidate with more moderate opinions on the issue, it's hard not to ask some questions.
I don't know that last night means that people are eager to suddenly embrace Democrats. The American populace has had electoral PMS since 2006. It's crabby, it's irrational, it cries a lot, it feels bad for itself. It hates Republicans, so it votes for Democrats. Then it decides it hates Democrats, so it votes for Republicans. There's a real lack of clear-minded consistency out there among voters.
However, I do wonder if some of what we saw last night isn't a sign that, just as Democrats did in 2009, Republicans also made the mistake of viewing their big win the year before as some kind of mandate for change as opposed to taking it as merely a sign of frustration with the other party.
(Also, I don't buy that what happened in Ohio necessary translates to bad news for Scott Walker. In the end, you can't beat the incumbent with the often-polled generic candidate. The Democrats still need to find a willing and competent body to carry the torch, and until that happens I think speculation is pointless. If the Democrats are dumb enough to think they've got so much momentum that they can win with someone like Dave Obey, I think they're nuts.)