Were the polls wrong? It's a question asked after every election. Sometimes, as in 1948, the answer seems as obvious as the answer to the question, "Why did Custer lose at Little Bighorn?" Sometimes the answer is less obvious, as it is this year.
If you're a political junkie -- or at least if you're a conservative political junkie -- you've probably seen the map. It's a map of the United States showing the congressional districts won by Republicans in red and those won by Democrats in blue.
Before the election results are in, and keeping in mind that there may be some unpleasant surprises for one party or the other -- or both -- it's possible to assess how the Democratic Party has fared under the leadership of President Obama. To summarize the verdict: not so well.
Things are spinning out of control. Out of control, at least, by government, and by the United States government in particular. You don't have to spend much time reading the news -- or monitoring your Twitter feed -- to get that impression. Armed fighting in Ukraine. Islamic State beheadings in Iraq and Syria. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in Hong Kong.
Republicans seem to be pulling away in the race to win a majority in the U.S. Senate. At least this week.
In mid-September, several polls seemed to be going the other way. The well-informed Washington Post analyst Chris Cillizza wrote that for the first time in this election cycle, odds favored the Democrats keeping their majority.
Last week, the voters of Scotland, in a heavy turnout and from age 16 up, decided not to disunite what has been arguably one of the most successful and beneficial nations over the last 307 years, the necessarily clunkily named United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
What should we do about immigration policy? It's a question many are asking, and some useful perspective comes from an article in Foreign Affairs by British-born, California-based historian Gregory Clark, unhelpfully titled, "The American Dream Is an Illusion."
Iraq, immigration, inversion. On all three of the issues referred to, President Obama finds himself forced by events to do something he dislikes -- and he's in trouble with much of his Democratic Party base for doing so.
"Twentieth-century technology," writes economic historian Joel Mokyr in the Manhattan Institute's excellent City Journal, "was primarily about 'large' things."
Large in physical size, that is. Mokyr's examples include the diesel engine and the gas turbine, shipping containers, communications satellites launched by giant rockets, oil-drilling platforms, massive power stations, giant steel mills and huge airplanes.
The standard thing to say about the various Republican primaries this year is that the tea party movement has lost one race after another. That's a defensible conclusion but also an oversimplification.
Liberals just aren't very liberal these days. The word "liberal" comes from the Latin word meaning freedom, and in the 19th century, liberals in this country and abroad stood for free speech, free exercise of religion, free markets, free trade -- for minimal state interference in people's lives.
The flood of underage -- and nonunderage -- illegal immigrants from Central America coming across the border in Texas is, to paraphrase a former Obama administration official, a "man-caused disaster." The man who caused it, more than anyone else, is Barack Obama.
Seldom in American history has the Supreme Court unanimously rejected positions advocated by presidents' administrations.
But in this respect at least, President Obama has produced the fundamental transformation he promised in his 2008 campaign. Over the last three years, the court has rejected Obama administration positions repeatedly in unanimous 9-0 decisions.
I'm old enough to remember when American liberals cherished the freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. They celebrated especially the freedom accorded those with unpopular beliefs and protested attempts to squelch the expression of differing opinions.
Polls show that most Americans wanted the United States to withdraw from Iraq. Barack Obama did indeed withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, not troubling to negotiate a readily negotiable status of forces agreement that would have left a contingent of American soldiers there.
Demography is destiny, we are often told, and rightly -- up to a point. The American electorate is made up of multiple identifiable segments, defined in various ways, by race and ethnicity, by age cohort, by region and religiosity (or lack thereof), by economic status and interest.
Over time, some segments become larger and some smaller. Some prove to be politically crucial, given the political alignments of the time. Others become irrelevant as they lose cohesion and identity.
Results of Tuesday's primaries, particularly the victory of state House Speaker Thom Tillis in North Carolina's Republican Senate primary, are being hailed -- or decried -- as a victory for the Republican establishment over the tea party movement.
There's something to that. Tillis benefited from support from Karl Rove's American Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and endorsements by Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush.