Let’s discuss a few intriguing facets of the election:

First, I guess we have an answer to Sarah Palin’s question for Obama supporters, “How’s that hopeychangey thing workin’ out for ya?”

Fox News, by the way, did a wonderful thing Tuesday night by pairing Palin with Geraldine Ferraro, the only other woman to run for veep on a major party ticket. It was fun to watch the Democrat and the Republican fete each other as examples for their daughters (and everyone else’s), with not a whiff of partisanship in their warm conversation.

It did make me wonder if, had MSNBC hired Ferraro, would it have asked Palin to appear with her? Fox is far less partisan than its left-wing rivals, and gets no credit for it from our liberal elites. The Fox election panel had two conservatives and two liberals, a better balance than any other network. And no Fox officials told center-left commentator Juan Williams they didn’t want him working for NPR, but NPR fired him for working for Fox.

Speaking of tolerance, don’t liberals love to hate Palin? I don’t think I’ve ever met a person indifferent to her, just ones with varying degrees of adoration or scorn.

That polarization probably means she would not be the GOP’s best nominee for president, but she could raise a ton of money and support, and she possibly could be useful at the bottom of the ticket.

For those shouting, “No way, she’s totally unsuited for any office,” I just have four words:

Vice President Joe Biden.

I watched a senator-elect give an acceptance speech Tuesday that made my conservative heart beat faster.

He gave thanks to God for his victory, patted his little daughter’s head as he spoke of the centrality of family values, and said he would stand up to wastrel Democrats with every fiber of his being, while being willing to work across party lines for solid, sensible reforms.

And he was the Democrat.

Sen.-elect Joe Manchin of West By-God Virginia had a campaign commercial that also won my affection. He nailed a copy of the cap-and-trade bill to a tree, backed off a few yards, picked up a hunting rifle, put the scope’s crosshairs on center of mass and — Ka-POW! — drilled that tax-hiking sucker right between the P and the T.

After that ad and his acceptance speech, I see why he got elected. We need senators who can show they know what both gun control and political effectiveness are really all about:

Hitting what you aim at.

Conservative satirist P.J. O’Rourke had a quip in The Weekly Standard just before the vote that’s worth repeating.

“This isn’t an election. It’s a restraining order,” he wrote.

In a few words, he condensed many impacts of Nov. 2: that voters put the brakes on Democratic spending, reining in plans to dump more borrowed funds into the economy; took aim at ObamaCare and its burdens, which the House can now refuse to fund; gave heart to those in both parties who want to rein in earmarks (and discomfit those in both parties who like pork-packing politics); and served notice that Americans are not willing to see their children’s and grandchildren’s futures mortgaged to buy benefits in the fleeting present.

It also means that Republicans got elected on probation. As many commentators on the right are noting, this is not a vote of approval for all things GOP. It is instead what Sen.-elect Marco Rubio said it was on Tuesday: a “second chance” to set things right.

There may not be a third one.

Support for that view is found in an election analysis for CBS News produced by William Galston, a former Clinton policy analyst now working for the Brookings Institution.

Galston says the electorate didn’t divide very differently on party lines this year than in 2008, with nearly identical percentages of Republicans, Democrats and independents represented — but the independents supported Republicans twice as often as two years ago.

Keeping that swing group happy thus would seem to be a path to continued power, but another trend showed up, too: “The ideological composition of the electorate shifted dramatically. In 2006, those who voted were 32 percent conservative, 47 percent moderate, and 20 percent liberal,” Galston said.

“In 2010, by contrast, conservatives had risen to 41 percent of the total and moderates declined to 39 percent, while liberals remained constant at 20 percent.” And much of that shift took place among independents. In 2006, 29 percent claimed to be conservatives, but in 2008, 36 percent did.

n Which may help illuminate a contention some on the right are now making — that espousing socially conservative views hurts candidates. These people say only fiscal conservatism is a winning stand in elections.

That makes it hard to explain why an explicitly pro-life, anti-same-sex marriage candidate will soon be governor of Maine.

It also makes it hard to explain the outcome of three judicial retention votes in Iowa.

Some background: SSM supporters point to Iowa as a “heartland” state that backs their liberal views on the issue.

But the only vote ever held there supporting SSM was in the Iowa Supreme Court, where in 2009 the seven justices took it upon themselves, in an act of infinite judicial arrogance, to void a state law protecting marriage.

On Nov. 2, all three of the judges who were up for a retention vote this year were turned out of office by voters, a move that won’t affect the decision but does give social conservatives leverage to press lawmakers to pass a constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage.

That process could take years, but once again this election shows that social issues remain winning ones.

 

M.D. Harmon is an editorial writer. He can be reached at 791-6482 or at:

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