nycweboy, who I obviously should read more often, has a post that captures the zeitgeist perfectly:
Off year election season is just kind of weird; in the "24 hour news" age, there's a whole political evaluation machine sitting around, little to do... and there's always a "trend report" needed for the next year.
And of course, there's the off chance that something real is actually happening.
[I]t seems clear that the real hurdle for candidates right now is incumbency. Voters are mad, they're especially mad about the economy, and they'd love to take it out on the nearest politician. ...
I think the left would do well to pay more attention and be less cheerfully dismissive of what's happening - the anger that [upstate NY Republican DCOW] Doug Hoffman and his supporters are counting on to drag him into a weak three way plurality is clearly real, and it can work. ...
And it would matter more, really, if there was more to it than simply frustration; nothing about Hoffman, or other current right darlings, including McDonnell, suggests that Republicans, or conservatives have really solved the fundamental problem of a dearth of good, new ideas to offer as alternatives to our current problems. ...
But conservatives have clearly learned a few things, things that should give one pause: the idea that they're relying on the old "social hot buttons" is pretty much old news. The new appeals are focused on bad economic times, fear of excessive government control, and suggestions of fiscal discipline that are bound to seem appealing on common sense grounds (though the antitax thing, really, is never going to be the long term solution).
And that negative economic appeal is working, and the fact that it's working ought to be giving national Democrats more pause than it seems to just yet. The fact that [racist, according to Whole Foods Nation] working class voters, especially working class whites, still seem down on Democratic proposals, interested in punishing incumbents and feeling no real positive results in the economy that's supposedly "recovered" ought to be a signal that there's a deep problem that needs a better answer than we're getting just now. I don't think the conservative movement, still, really has a clue what to do to offer these folks actual solutions to their problems (which is why calling them out as fearmongers ought to be louder and more direct)... but there's a point where that doesn't matter. And if the Republicans do manage to come up with an idea (like, say, actually figuring out how to impose fiscal discipline that actually looked disciplined)... then there's an even bigger problem.
Myself, I feel like the current moment is a curious kind of limbo; in all my years, with all the political changes that have occurred, I've never seen a time where things seemed, on the one hand, incredibly dull and lifeless, and on the other hand, so on the cusp of breaking apart in some unforseen way. We're doing a familiar dance, talking about politics in the usual ways... but the words seem rote, the energy is off, and the causes are not, really, inspiring the right people to do the right things [for example]. In part, I know my mood comes from deep seated suspicions that the economy is really in worse shape than anyone realizes or wants to admit; but it's also a nagging sense that the return to old "right-left" shouting matches is a choice no one seems all that thrilled with, or eager to repeat. If we were spoiling for that fight, both Virginia and New Jersey would be brimming with, really, far more negativity than is out there. That anger, that rage that's bubbling around the edges and under the surface of our conversations hasn't really been dealt with; it's waiting for the moment. And I don't know what that moment is... but I'm pretty sure it's not in upstate New York, and never was. Whatever this angry moment is... it's not a right wing revival. Knowing that, though, isn't knowing much else.
Yep. The old is dying, and the new is struggling to be born. In the interim, a great variety of morbid symptoms occur.