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Well, the hollering and screaming is over and instead of being amazed by the antics of politicians we can go back to the normal everyday rhythms of life that get disrupted every four years by an election.

What went wrong for Republicans here in North Carolina? What didn’t go wrong is happier to contemplate: Half the voters didn’t troop down to the Board of Elections and suddenly change their registration from Democrat to Republican. We didn’t wake up this morning as liberal as New York or as ‘blue’ as Massachusetts.

Instead, voters asked themselves a simple question: Do I think Republicans deserve to be reelected? Then they looked at the last eight years and gave a pretty emphatic answer.

As a result The Grand Old Party has achieved a kind of political trifecta not seen since Franklin Roosevelt handed Republicans their heads in two straight elections during the Great Depression. And there’s more bad news: Republicans lost 21 Senate seats in 1932 and 1934 – then went on to lose 5 more in 1936 – so we might not be out of the woods yet.

All the pundits and talking heads in TV land are pontificating about how Republicans revive themselves politically. Do we move to the middle? Do we turn somersaults and stand on our heads? The better question for Republicans to ask ourselves is how did we do such a disastrous job of running the country for eight years? That, not politics, is the root of our problem.

The other thing pundits are waxing eloquent about is our newfound racial enlightenment. No less a guru than Bill Moyers was gushing on the radio last night about how far we’ve come in his 74 years when it comes to freeing ourselves of the bonds of bigotry. But when you get right down to it the explanation for our newfound virtue is simple: Anger. When voters pulled the curtain in the voting booth their anger at George Bush was greater than any qualms they felt about electing our first African-American president.

Among the other, smaller, things that happened was Elizabeth Dole’s “Godless” ad. Two weeks before the election Senator Dole had 44% of the vote – with 14% undecided. She still had 44% on Election Day.

There’s no point crying over spilt milk. But the last week of her campaign was not her finest hour.

Among the last of the small things is a novelty: At the end of the election to win Bev Perdue needed a handful of rural, white Democratic votes and she went after them hammer and tongs and, wonder of wonders, emerged as the leading anti-illegal immigration crusader in North Carolina history.

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