And yet, again, the reporters flock to the experts and politicians themselves, rather than the voters, for their insights into why people are voting the way they are. Referencng the New Hampshire race, Wallsten and King Jr. report:
Mr. Lamontagne is trying to highlight his outsider status. “My point is simply this: Do you want to vote for the establishment candidate, who is brought to you by the establishment?” Mr. Lamontagne said in an interview. “Or someone who can only be beholden to you, because that’s where the support has come from?”
The voters, he said, “know I haven’t been handpicked.”
They probably could have told us that themselves if the reporter had asked.
David Lightman at McClatchy matches the others for fiery language—“the tea party rebellion is roiling the GOP across the land” is almost biblical—but does better than most by actually speaking to those doing the roiling. After a solid recap of the dynamics of the Delaware race, in which he does more than skim over O’Donnell’s troubles with the IRS, Lightman writes of O’Donnell’s supporters:
They were motivated largely by anger at Washington.
“What set me off was the stimulus bill,” said Chris Shirey, a Laurel, Del., respiratory therapist who’s the state’s tea party coordinator. “I’d be for it if was much smaller,” she said.
She found like-minded people with other complaints. They were angry at Castle’s support of the 2008 bank bailout and of the Democrats’ cap-and-trade legislation last year.
“Look at cap and trade, why do we need it? And we’re spending all this money, for what?” asked William Van Ness, a Magnolia, Del., engineer.
Kudos also go out to Time’s Alex Altman at the Swampland blog for pointing out the oft-overlooked narrative-rerouting fact that overall and despite the hype, the cycle still remains very “pro-incumbency.” Altman then offers an interesting insight into why Tea Party-backed candidates have proved successful where they have.
…the story of the night is O’Donnell’s victory, which is sure to touch off a fresh flood of stories about the dangers of incumbency amid a jobless recovery and rampant distrust of politicians in both parties. With a few notable exceptions, incumbents have been wildly successful this year, as they are in every cycle. A more nuanced assessment of the Tea Party clout…is that they’ve been able to spring upset in states where they need only to motivate a small cadre of conservatives. Those include Delaware, where O’Donnell was declared the victor with just 30,000 votes; the Republican stronghold of Alaska, where Joe Miller bounced Sen. Lisa Murkowski; and deep-red Utah, where Sen. Bob Bennett’s loss to Mike Lee can be chalked up in large part to the parameters of the state’s nominating convention.
Ginger Gibson at Delaware’s own News Journal does a nice job too, tying O’Donnell’s win to Republican U.S. House candidate Glen Urquhart’s—who also beat out a party-endorsed rival—to suggest a wider anti-establishment sentiment in the state. And the paper’s on-the-ground chats with voters provided some anecdotal meat to polls and pundits suggesting voters are frustrated with the status quo.
“I think it’s time to get rid of the old,” Brandywine Hundred voter Leandro Conti Sr. said of Castle. “I just think it’s time for him to go away.”
…Joe Gasz, 43, of Brandywine Hundred, said choosing between Castle and O’Donnell “was tough,” but in the end he went with O’Donnell “because the career politicians aren’t getting it done.”
Most interesting, perhaps, is that the chats with voters reveal that strategy was on the mind of some, despite (unchallenged) claims by Republican officials and other talking head in mainstream reports today.
Jeremy Watkins, 30, of Newark, who voted for O’Donnell and Urquhart, said he didn’t care that they might lose in November.
“I’d rather lose with a good conservative candidate,” he said, “than win with someone who doesn’t stand for the things that are important to me.”
Jeremy Watkins tells me much more about the mood of Delaware Republicans than any strategist, journalist, or disgruntled politician has.
Still, despite its own lack of voter-engagement, my favorite report on Tuesday comes from the excellent local Delaware reporter Celia Cohen at the Delaware Grapevine. It gets my vote for sheer color and grumpiness. Just last week Cohen had equated O’Donnell’s candidacy with Y2K, an explosion that just would not happen, and said that Castle was facing “nothing but a noise machine.” Needless to say, she was taken by surprise as she wrote on the results yesterday.