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Random Thoughts On The Morning After

In the final days of campaigns, all candidates believe that they are going to win. Crowds were huge for Mike Dukakis and Mitt Romney. Enthusiasm was palpable for John Kerry and Romney. Polls tightened for Dukakis and Kerry and Romney.

Massachusetts’ standing as a graveyard for presidential candidates remains intact. Ted Kennedy, Paul Tsongas, Dukakis and Kerry have now been joined by Romney as defeated presidential candidates. (Being adjacent to New Hampshire can help you get the nomination or a head start… but doesn’t do diddly for you later.)

Romney got clobbered in his hometown of Belmont, 65 percent to 34 percent — a 2-to-1 drubbing by Mitt’s neighbors. Along with his being trounced in Massachusetts, it seems the closer you are to Mitt, the less you like him.

Boy, was I wrong about U.S. Rep. John Tierney. It’s possible he may have been saved by President Obama’s landslide here, but I may be wrong on that, too. Tierney won his first election to Congress in 1996 after a recount (a campaign I consulted on).

Boy, does Richard Tisei regret running that TV spot that showed nothing but a peaceful beach. Doesn’t seem quite as clever today. Lesson: Never quit fighting.

I hope Elizabeth Warren is better in the Senate than she seemed on TV. I’m reminded of what Mark Twain said of Wagner’s music: It’s better than it sounds.

Why did Warren give her victory speech standing on the stage all by herself? A statement by her campaign handlers that it was a personal triumph?

I was struck by all the Warren allies who described how she won, not why — large field organization, well-schooled local volunteers and union support. Warren won because she nationalized and feminized the race.

In his concession speech, Sen. Scott Brown looked like he expected to lose.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Brown quit electoral politics; he could make a fortune in Washington as a “strategist” (unregistered lobbyist) or rainmaker for a D.C. law firm.

The Boston Globe probably killed the “Death with Dignity” ballot question with a late editorial that came out against it. It’s not the same paper it used to be.

Tom Kiley, the Boston-based pollster, had three big wins: Warren in Mass., Angus King in Maine and Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri.

Eric Fehrnstrom, the Boston-based Etch-A-Sketch adviser, had two big losses: Romney and Brown. Since Brown’s special election victory in 2010, his firm has lost six straight races.

How petty was Karl Rove who forced Fox News to withdraw calling Ohio for Obama? Even if Obama had lost Ohio, he still won the electoral vote.

The result of Fox’s move: Romney refused to concede until well after midnight, so the president didn’t get to deliver his victory speech until just before 2 a.m. EST.

Exit polls may return as an Election Night feature; they were spot-on in the swing states of Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

King, the independent in Maine, won a big 56 percent U.S. Senate victory after being attacked by Rove, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the GOP with $4 million worth of ugly and utterly ineffective TV ads — a ton of money in Maine. (Disclosure: He was a client of mine.)

I wonder if Rep. Barney Frank (a former client) would’ve run one more time had he known how weak Republican Sean Bielat was the second time around. Then again, running against Barney might’ve been less harrowing than beating a Kennedy, except for trying to debate Barney.

Paul Ryan’s selection as VP got Romney nothing but peace with the far right. As a vote-getter, his impact was probably slightly negative due to his budget plan.

My money’s on former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as the GOP nominee in 2016. The party simply cannot get croaked in the Hispanic community or by the nation’s changing demographics if it hopes to occupy the White House in this century.

For Democrats across the country who came under withering attacks from Rove, the Chamber of Commerce and various other spawn of the Citizens United decision, I recall the words of Winston Churchill: “Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.”

Dan Payne is WBUR’s Democratic analyst. For more political commentary, go to our Payne & Domke page.

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