This isn’t a detailed, state-by-state analysis of what happened on 02 November. All we’re really aware of are the few major elections that came to our attention during our daily news sweeps, using our usual search terms for The Controversy between evolution and creationism.
There were probably hundreds of creationists who escaped our notice that were elected to positions in state legislatures, school boards, city councils, etc. If such people reach critical mass — as in Louisiana — they have the potential to mandate idiocy, but the damage they do is local. That is one of the great benefits of our Federal system, where only a few powers have been ceded to the central government.
There’s no reason to assume that those positions haven’t always been filled by ignoramuses, yet we’ve somehow survived. So we’ve ignored all such contests and focused only on major political races — for state governor, for the US Senate, and for the US House of Representatives — and even then, only a few of those campaigns came to our attention.
Here’s what happened in the races we were watching, and after our little summary we’ll tell you what we make of it all.
A couple of months ago we posted our small list of Creationists on the Ballot. Of the creationists mentioned in that post (and addenda thereto), Joe Miller’s run for a Senate seat from Alaska is still undecided; Scott Tipton of Colorado won his bid for a House seat in Congress; Christine O’Donnell of Delaware was defeated for the US Senate; Marco Rubio of Florida won a Senate seat; Bill Brady lost the Governorship in Illinois; Paul LePage will be Governor of Maine; and Rick Perry will continue to be Governor of Texas.
We left one obvious creationist off our list, Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, because she seemed likely to win — and she did. We omitted Sharron Angle from our list, although we don’t know how; she lost her race for a Senate seat from Nevada. We also ignored some state governorship races where it seemed that all the candidates were creationists, e.g., in Tennessee. We forgot to mention that John Kasich, who won the governorship of Ohio, is also a creationist.
[Addendum: Somehow we missed Oklahoma’s new Republican Governor Mary Fallin. She’s another creationist.]
[2nd Addendum: We also missed Florida’s new member of the US House, Daniel Webster. See Florida Creationism: Signs and Portents.]
So we’ve got some creationist Governors (e.g., Texas, Maine, Ohio, and of course Jindal in Louisiana). [And Oklahoma too.] We’ll have some creationists in the Senate (Rubio and maybe Miller). There will probably be others in the House besides Scott Tipton from Colorado and Michele Bachmann from Minnesota [and Daniel Webster from Florida].
The good news is that the most obvious flamers (Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, and Bill Brady) were defeated, and this was an election year in which it should have been relatively easy for conservative Republicans to win. Nevertheless, those lost; and the consensus of pundits we’ve heard from seems to be that a “less extreme” candidate would have done better in each race.
We shouldn’t forget that some other creationist flamers were defeated earlier in the year in various primary elections. For example, the Kansas Governor’s primary went as well as it could (the worse creationist, Joan Heffington, lost to Sam Brownback); Randy Brogdon, the creationist running for Governor in Oklahoma lost; and the same thing happened to Ron Micheli in Wyoming. Also, creationist Bruce Blakeman lost a Senate primary in New York.
Aside from those who came to our notice, there are probably loads of closeted creationists all over the place, but we don’t care — as long as they keep it in the closet.
So what do we make of all this? Are there any lessons that party professionals and even Tea Party amateurs might learn that could be useful in the future? Here are a few items that occur to us:
1. Creationism as a prominent election issue is never a sure winner, even in a party primary (except maybe in states like Louisiana, Texas, and Tennessee) If a candidate is looking for that one magic issue that will put him over the top, it’s not creationism.
2. In an easy general election contest, creationism can be irrelevant (especially if it’s not a prominent issue); but in a close election, creationism can be a loser. Thus, candidates shouldn’t emphasize their creationism, and if possible they shouldn’t make it an issue at all.
3. If creationism becomes a major issue in a close general election, it’s almost always a sure loser (Paul LePage of Maine is the sole exception).
So that’s the deal. It could have gone better; it could have gone worse. It remains to be seen if anyone ever learns anything from history.
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