But many political insiders predicted the electorate will remain fickle and hard to please.
“The days of decades of a majority in Congress are long gone” Republican new media consultant Brian Donahue said. “People are more able to hold their elected officials accountable on a day-by-day basis because of the amount of the news and information they have access to as well as their ability to communicate on issues of concern and to organize like-minded voters in easier ways.”
The power of that organizing ability was epitomized this cycle by the rise of the tea party movement, a group that remains poised to be an influential force once again in the 2012 primaries and general election.
Speed also took on increased importance when it came to Congressional campaigns this cycle. Candidates were made or ruined on their ability to quickly tailor their messages to different audiences in response to breaking news or reports from field operatives.
“If you’re not talking about the latest jobs numbers and what’s going on with our economy, you missed the point by missing the important news of the day,” Donahue said.
Democratic officials still publicly claim that they have a chance of holding the House and claim that their turnout operations could save the party from major losses. But in recent weeks, party operatives have been increasingly willing to admit that the political die has been cast. Most polling points to Republican gains well in excess of the 39 net seats needed to flip the House, and the real fight now appears to be whether the GOP can also take the Senate and complete what would be a remarkable comeback in just four years. Most pundits have predicted an at least eight-seat gain for the Senate GOP, shy of the 10 needed to regain control. But a complete GOP takeover of the Senate is not out of the question given the volatile electorate.
“I think our politics is going to remain fundamentally divisive. I don’t think that that changes,” Beattie predicted. “If you have both sides trying to appeal intensely to a base, then neither side is successful at building a coalition that wants results and outcomes. If that doesn’t occur, then yeah, I think we’re absolutely going to see the same politics continue.”
John Stanton, Jackie Kucinich and David M. Drucker contributed to this report.