There were, of course, plenty of other races besides the big one, and in many communities interest in them ran high. The Democrats went into the election with overwhelming majorities in the Senate, the House of Representatives and the nation's statehouses. Some faces changed, but when the votes were counted, those majorities stayed firm.
The political novices included a 70-year-old semanticist in California, a former astronaut in New Mexico, a rancher in Wyoming and a tax lawyer in Utah. All are conservative Republicans, and all unceremoniously ousted liberal Democratic...