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Flash Traffic | Political Buzz from Washington

Issue: "The Bush mandate," Nov. 16, 2002

Besides those elected and defeated-and the president himself-here are WORLD's biggest losers and winners in Elections 2002:

LOSERS

Terry McAuliffe: Anti-tax strategist Grover Norquist and I had lunch on Oct. 28 at The Palm. At a table near us: the Democratic National Committee chairman and three of his top deputies. Mr. Norquist went over to say hello, introduced me, and we kibitzed about the upcoming elections. Mr. McAuliffe bragged that the DNC had raised record amounts of cash, boasted that Democrats would have a huge night, and predicted they'd take down Jeb Bush in Florida and embarrass the president. A few days later, Mr. McAuliffe kept up the swagger for Meet the Press viewers (11/3), telling Tim Russert: "We are going to win Florida which is going to set us up, Tim, very nicely for 2004.... I think we're going to win the House back. I've been traveling extensively. I think we're going to knock off a lot of incumbents.... I think in the Senate, we pick up one to three seats." Looks like he bit off a little more than he could chew.

Tom Daschle: Defeated. Demoted. Demoralized. Doesn't even know why.

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Dick Gephardt: Not speaker, not president, see Dick quit the Democratic leadership.

Dick Morris: Blasted the GOP in a New York Post column (11/4): "Except for a possible upset in Georgia, the Republicans aren't likely to come up with any Democratic scalps.... They don't have any issues after Clinton cut welfare and crime.... Bush's popularity dropped as he appeared to be too much of a politician and too little of a wartime leader in recent weeks." Maybe the dumbest thing he's ever written.

John Zogby: America's most accurate pollster struck out-big time. Had Colorado Democrat Tom Strickland beating GOP Sen. Wayne Allard, 53-43. Strike one. Had Georgia Democrat Sen. Max Cleland in a dead heat with Saxby Chambliss, 49-49. Strike two. Had Missouri Democrat Sen. Jean Carnahan beating Republican Jim Talent, 49-48. Strike three; yer outta there!

James Carville: Predicted a Democratic two-seat gain in the Senate and 20-seat pickup in the House. So embarrassed, he wore a trashcan over his head on election night on CNN.

Paul Begala: "I'm picking a Democratic gain of three seats in the Senate, solidifying the Democratic majority in the Senate," he predicted on CNN (11/4). Maybe he should pull a Clinton and claim that "majority" has many different meanings.

"Hillary Care": Socialized medicine went down in flames in Oregon, 80-20.

Bill Simon: California Gov. Gray Davis was ripe for the picking. What a waste.

WINNERS

Karl Rove: He occupies Hillary Clinton's old West Wing office, where he systematically dismantles the Clintons' legacy. He neutralized Democratic issues like education and prescription drugs. He crafted an agenda appealing to conservatives and independents: tax cuts, homeland security, the faith-based initiative. He handpicked candidates immune to demonization, and created the "VISA" president: Bush was everywhere Republicans wanted him to be (hit 40 states, raised $140 million). Mr. Rove planned a final campaign swing so struggling GOP candidates could benefit from the "Bush Bounce" among undecided voters.

Ralph Reed: The former Christian Coalition leader is now state chairman of the Georgia GOP. Tuesday proved him one of the party's savviest strategists: defeated Sen. Max Cleland; defeated Gov. Roy Barnes to secure GOP governorship for the first time in 135 years; picked up two House seats. Watch this guy.

Speaker Dennis Hastert: Smart. Underestimated. Quietly making history.

Congressman Tom DeLay: "The Hammer" delivered big legislative victories in the House with razor-thin margins, while Tom Daschle couldn't get any major bills passed, and not even a budget. He created the new GOP get-out-the-vote strategy for the final 72 hours. He deployed staff to key races. Rep. DeLay is now poised to move from House majority whip to House majority leader, succeeding fellow Texan Dick Armey, who retires from the House this year.

The New Investor Class: Eighty million working Americans see their investments getting whacked. President Bush and new Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott must now move decisively on a bold new pro-growth package: accelerate permanent marginal income tax rate cuts; abolish the death tax; cut the capital gains tax; accelerate write-offs for businesses investing in new jobs, plants, and equipment; name a new Treasury secretary; and don't worry about class warfare, because even most Democrats on the campaign trail embraced tax cuts.

Joel C. Rosenberg
Joel C. Rosenberg

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