“In the sense that the anti-war movement brought out millions of people that had not been involved in politics and they became engaged in a material way,” Russo said in an interview as he headed to what he expects will be a victory party for Cruz in Texas.
The Democratic Party, he insists, has never been the same and neither will the GOP after the influx of tea partiers.
When the Senate votes are counted, moderate Republicans and Democrats from Massachusetts and Montana could be gone, leaving the chamber with just a handful of the lawmakers inclined to reach across the aisle. Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine decided to retire earlier this year, frustrated with the partisan gridlock in Congress.
New England’s three other GOP senators are New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte, Maine’s Susan Collins and Massachusetts’ Scott Brown, now an underdog against Democrat Elizabeth Warren, formerly of Norman, in a race for the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s seat.
“The few Republicans who are in office in New England are an endangered species,” said veteran Democratic strategist Dan Payne, who is working for independent Angus King. “Their party has shifted so far to the right.”
King is favored to win the three-way race for Snowe’s seat.
A Bloomberg poll in September found that 55 percent of Americans said Congress will continue to be an impediment no matter who is elected president. Just 32 percent said Congress would get the message and work together.
Democratic strategist Steve McMahon said he worries that with a divided Congress “we can probably expect hyper partisanship and gridlock everywhere. It seems like Americans can expect more of the same.”
The other certainty is neither Obama nor Romney will have much of a mandate based on the razor-thin presidential race and the likelihood that the majority party in the Senate will be nowhere near a filibuster-proof majority.