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There’s a lot of talk about the various factors that went into the Democrats not only winning in Ohio, but across the country to retake the House and Senate. There is no single reason why this happened - the GOP imploded with corruption and scandal, the failure of the Bush administration to properly respond to Hurricane Katrina, the “fear factor” card no longer as viable as in ‘02 and ‘04, the quagmire that is the Iraq war, plus regional and state issues. Here’s a few things:

1. Economic Populism and Social Justice Won, not “Real Conservatism”
In six states, minimum wage increases passed, and that’s almost as important as the sweep the Dems had in Congress. It also doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots between Sherrod Brown and Heath Shuler. Brown, about as liberal as they come, and Shuler, a social conservative on many issues, both share the common beliefs in tying economics and social justice together. You can’t be a “compassionate conservative” if you don’t give a damn about the poor, about working people’s wages, about healthcare, about education, etc. For a long time the Republicans have tried to balance the business and religious sides of their party. Well, money talks, and the Dobson crew walked. Dems picked up Evangelical voters, and my guess is the message of true compassion and justice has started hitting home with some people, and the game of “we’ll promise to do this, but won’t really do it” has worn thin with certain members of the religious right.

2. Karl Rove is a lucky bastard
George Bush was lucky to get into the White House in 2000. He lost the popular vote, and thanks to a number of events, snuck in the back door. Nine months after inaguration, 9/11 happens, and Bush’s brain has two election cycles to play the fear and terror cards. Well, that got old after the people saw what happened when Bush got his “mandate” - everything backfired. His Social Sercurity tour crashed, his Terri Schiavo intervention looked foolish and intrusive, he ignored a Gold Star Mother and let the media make a story out of it for a week, he lost an entire city to a natural disaster and then sat around for a week before doing anything, and most importantly - he refused to take responsiblity for Afghanistan, the failure to catch Bin Laden, and the hell that is Iraq and demanded that we “stay the course.” When Rove had to actually do something beyond having Tom Ridge bump us up to orange alert, he failed miserably. No doubt Rove is evil, he’s just no evil genius. His skill at being the scummiest of the scum certainly came in handy for a while, but he’s done.

3. Voinovich will be Toasted by his Own Party
The “real conservatives” blame the election slaughter on the RINOs - Republicans In Name Only - like Lincoln Chafee and Mike DeWine. Of course, what RINO actually means is having a spine and an ability to think for oneself. That however, is not what conservatives demand of the Republican party, the opposite of the Democrat “big tent” philosophy that includes people as diverse as Bob Casey, Russ Feingold and Jon Tester. George Voinovich is probably a good guy, but he has, at times, expressed differences of opinion with the Bush administration. Voinovich will, no doubt, face an ultra conservative wingnut in a primary challenge, backed by either religious based Dobson crew or the economic freaks from a place like Club For Growth. He may even survive the primary, but like Lincoln Chafee, the primary fight will leave him battered and bruised for the general, and Dems will be ready for the fight.