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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The political carnage in the U.S. -- my take

Perhaps the most closely watched and most expensive mid-term elections ever are right around the corner in the U.S. Election night will certainly be interesting in every state, but this year's contests, in my opinion, are especially significant in the West. Just two years ago, the Democrats celebrated a new dominance in the Interior West. And the West celebrated its own newfound influence in national politics.

Today, the West's influence holds: Probably no race has attracted more attention than Nevada's contest pitting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid against Tea Partier Republican Sharron Angle. And other state races are also attracting oodles of outside money along with visits from the Obamas and Sarah Palin. The Democrats' influence is much more tenuous -- it's conceivable that we'll all wake up after Election Day to a much redder region.

Of course, that red will be tainted by whatever color one might consider the Tea Party, which has successfully knocked out a number of mainstream, relatively moderate Republican candidates, and replaced them with hard-liners and extremists. The new Tea Partiers run as Republicans but look significantly different than the G.O.P. of a decade ago, even. Also of note is the fact that the Tea Partiers have failed to win significant influence in some surprising states: Washington, Arizona, Oregon. And in Colorado, they've virtually succeeded in handing the Governor's office back to the Democrats.

All of that and more in High Country News' guide to the elections, written mostly by yours truly (senior editor Ray Ring edited the package and wrote about the Northern Rockies states). Read it. Comment. And keep it around for election night.

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