I am not an Americanist, which means that I don't study American politics and avoided such classes throughout my entire education. I picked up what I did through osmosis--hanging out with Americanists and by taking courses where much of the reading was from the Americanist subfield--game theory, methods, research design. So, I have no real expertise to display and apply when it comes to the election results, and I did not follow things too closely because I knew the result would be depressing. But a lack of expertise has never stopped me from spewing before....
So, my big conclusion: Americans are not quite as crazy as we thought our as crazy for crazy candidates as we thought. The initial results indicate that folks voted against the strangest of the Senator candidates: Angle lost, O'Donnell lost, and the Sarah Palin-chosen Joe Miller is losing to an incumbent on a write-in ballot. Sure, some loons won in the House, but small districts will lead to some big outliers. Sure, Rand Paul won, but that is hardly a bellweather for the future. What this election says to me is that the Republicans face a big challenge in 2012--nominating someone who is not a loonie (and I don't mean someone who is not $1 Canadian). If the Republicans want to lose the White House, Sarah Palin is their best choice. I still stand by that, as Angle could not beat the face of the Democrats in the Senate--Harry Reid.
The big question will be whether the GOP, especially in the House, overplays its hand? My guess is, hell yes. So, Obama should check with the Clinton playbook for when the Republicans over-reach. It will not be hard for him to play the voice and face of reason over the next two years.
The one big surprise, I guess, is that the Republican organizations did a good job of targeting, taking a few more seats than their national vote would suggest. It turns out that the Republican machine, despite McCain's performance two years ago and the rise of the Tea Party folks more recently, is still intact. Too bad.
But I will look at the glass as being half full. In a time of very high unemployment, two wars, recent terrorist incidents, where one major outlet of news is owned by the GOP essentially, and where money is unleashed, I don't think things went that badly. Of course, I had low expectations.