Much to the contradiction of the national media who always mentioned Harold Ford Jr's race, I do not think that him being an African American played into his loss. I don't pretend to be naive enough to think that there weren't people who didn't vote for him because of his race, but I don't think that percentage was big enough to cause his loss. There are two things that I think that did play into his loss.
1) His family. I think that there were enough people concerned about his family that they didn't vote for him, either wondering if they would influence him when he got into power or he would end up like them. I think that's why Shelby County (Memphis) didn't go stronger for him. They know his family and there were enough people there and in parts of the rest of the state that decided for that reason.
2) He's a Democrat. I think that as conservative as Tennessee has swung, there were a lot of independent voters who couldn't bring themselves to vote for a Democrat. They fear them in power. They fear the Pelosi factor. I also think there were a lot of Republicans in the same boat. They're dissatisfied with the war and the President and the party and don't agree with them, but just couldn't push the button to vote for a Democrat. I almost fell into that category myself, but for the first time in a Senatorial election, I voted for a Democrat. I fell into all of those categories and decided that the time was right for some change in DC after 12 years. I liked how he presented himself and how he campaigned (for the most part). I think that he'll be a great candidate in the future as well.
Same Sex Marriage
This wasn't very interesting in Tennessee: 80% to 20% for the amendment defining Marriage as being between a man and woman. I wasn't surprised by that at all.
What I didn't know was how it broke down in the other 7 states where there were similar ballot initiatives:
- Arizona 51 to 49 against the ban on gay marriage
- Colorado 56 to 44 for the ban
- Idaho 63 to 37 for the ban
- South Carolina 78 to 22 for the ban
- South Dakota 52 to 48 for the ban
- Virginia 57 to 43 for the ban
- Wisconsin 59 to 41 for the ban
Democrats in the House (and maybe the Senate)
The country has indicated that it wants some change. The Dems won many more seats in the House than they needed for a majority and there's still an outside chance that the two undecideds in Virginia and Montana will swing their way. The question now is what really will change? The president is the Commander in Chief, so the Dems won't get us out of Iraq. They don't have a chance to override vetoes, so the laws they pass will have to be compromises on some level (not even including those signing statements Bush has been writing on laws passed by his own party). What we're probably looking at is gridlock, but in my mind, while gridlock isn't great, I find it preferable to the blank check the President has had for the last 6 years.
What's really going to get interesting is the next two years with the Presidential race (which should be interesting). Will the Democrats get someone who can capture the public's imagination? Or will we be stuck again voting for the lesser of two idiots?