Bruce Bartlett explains why so many conservatives were so surprised at the outcome of the election:
Post-election autopsy, Commentary, Washington Times: ...The Republicans still seem shell-shocked by the results [of the election] and have no clue why they lost or what to do about it. One reason for this, I believe, is that many were genuinely surprised by the depth of their defeat, though it had been forecast by the polls for months.
This was because there is now a fully developed alternative media where conservatives can get all their news and never hear an unfriendly voice. For months, this media -- Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, conservative Web sites -- have taken the line that Republicans not only should win, not only could win, but in fact would win. Over and over again, we heard about Karl Rove's secret polls showing a certain Republican victory, and Fred Barnes told us night after night on Fox News that the mainstream media's polls were wrong.
In fact, the polls were dead-on accurate. And they told anyone who read them that blind recitation of the daily White House talking points was a one-way ticket to oblivion. Yet time and again, all I heard on conservative talk radio or read on conservative blogs was that the economy is the best it ever was, that the war in Iraq is being won, that anyone who says otherwise is a liar and so on.
The one thing I know with certainty about sports and elections is that you have to be a realist to win. Living in a dream world is an absolute guarantee of defeat. I believe if Republicans had been forced to confront reality earlier, they might have been able to turn things around. Their friends in the conservative media did them no favors by feeding them a false sense of optimism.
Now that Democrats actually have a chance to influence policy, if we are going to call ourselves the reality-based community, we need to avoid making the same mistake. When it's evident that the Democratic leadership "has no clothes," we should say so.
On that note, here's a hope. It would be nice if the mainstream media didn't always go back to the same people every time they need a quote or an interview from a Democrat. I get tired of hearing the same voices again and again, particularity when they don't speak to my concerns as well as I would hope. There are more than two or three Democrats with something to say.
Update: In comments, Bruce Bartlett adds:
I think it is revealing that both Talent and Burns were even or slightly ahead in the polls BEFORE Bush came to campaign for them in the final days--uninvited, by the way. Basically, his campaigning for them is what cost them their elections and gave the Senate to the Democrats. Yet there are still people out there who think Rove is a genius. I think he is the Bob Shrum of the Republican Party--a genius at turning victory into defeat.