Elections are all about winning and losing. And there was lots and lots of that on Tuesday night -- with Republicans doing most of the winning and Democrats doing the bulk of the losing. Having dug out from the avalanche of election results and with a few hours of sleep, I came up with some of the less obvious bests and worsts of the night that was.
Agree? Disagree? The comments section awaits.
* Mitch McConnell: All this guy does is win. In a race that was supposed to be the closest of his life, the senator was named the winner of his reelection race moments after the polls closed in Kentucky. And, given the developments in other parts of the country, McConnell looks very likely to take over as Senate majority leader when the 114th Congress convenes in January.
* Chris Christie: If not for the Republican takeover of the Senate, all the political world would be talking about this morning would be the remarkable success the GOP had in the governors' contests. They won where they should have (Illinois, Arkansas etc) and where they shouldn't have (Maryland and Maine). Leading that effort as the chairman of the Reupublican Governors Association was New Jersey's Christie, who will assuredly use the showing from his side as a springboard for his own 2016 ambitions.
* National Republican Senatorial Committee: Yes, they had a terrific map. And, yes, it got better when Democrats such as Max Baucus, Jay Rockefeller and Tim Johnson decided to retire. But, they still had to go out and win it. And, after struggling to beat virtually any Senate Democrats in the past few cycles, they ousted Sens. Mark Pryor in Arkansas and Mark Udall in Colorado and might beat Sens. Kay Hagan in North Carolina and Mark Warner in Virginia. And, they managed to save Sen. Pat Roberts from himself in Kansas.
* John Kasich: The Republican Ohio governor, as expected, won a crushing victory over Ed FitzGerald, who may well have been the worst heavily-hyped candidate of the election. Winning so big in a state that is at the center of every electoral vote calculation made by 2016 strategists in both parties. Kasich has been mostly mute on his interest in running for president in 2016, but Tuesday night solidified his résumé should he decide to do just that.
* Ed Gillespie: Win or (narrowly) lose, Gillespie drastically overperformed expectations in his challenge to Virginia's Sen. Mark Warner (D). And, even if he winds up losing, Gillespie will be very well positioned to run for governor in 2017 in a relatively weak field that could include former state attorney general Mark Obenshain and former lieutenant governor Bill Bolling.
* Shelley Moore Capito: Quietly, the West Virginia congresswoman ran one of the best campaigns in the country. She easily won the race to replace retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) and will be an interesting moderate GOP voice in the Senate.
* Al Franken: The Democratic Minnesota senator won the closest race in the country six years ago, and many Republicans promised to make him a one-termer. Franken made no news -- on purpose -- and played down his former celebrity status. It worked brilliantly.
* Florida vote counting: Giant state. Fast count. Kudos for a place that has seen its share of criticism of the way it conducts its elections.
* America Rising: The Republican opposition research shop -- run by Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign manager -- proved its value this cycle. They had trackers in 36 states and unearthed some gems of opposition research on Democratic challengers, including Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley's pejorative comments about farmers and the detailed memo from Michelle Nunn's campaign about her weaknesses and their overall strategy. Oppo research isn't the sexiest part of campaigns, but it might be the most important.
* The Corys: The Senate now has two men named Cory in it: Cory Gardner (R) from Colorado and Cory Booker (D) from New Jersey. I really only made them a winner so I could link to this picture of the other Two Corys.
* Southern Democrats: Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina, Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky and Sen. Mark Pryor in Arkansas did everything they could to run away from President Obama and insist they were their own independent voices. Ditto Michelle Nunn in Georgia. Didn't work. They all lost. And even Sen. Mark Warner, long considered to be impregnable, found himself in a tight race with former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie. The results affirmed just how difficult it is for Democrats to win federal races in the South -- particularly in an election cycle like this one where a Democratic president is decidedly unpopular in the region. (An NBC/Marist poll released on Sunday showed Obama with a 32 percent approval rating in Kentucky.)
* Charlie Crist: Crist, as recently as five years ago, was the most popular politician in Florida by a mile. Today he is a two-time losing party switcher with no political future. Crist's abandonment of the Republican Party backfired on him in the 2010 Senate race, and he couldn't overcome Gov. Rick Scott (R), who was deeply unpopular in the state, as a Democrat.
* Scott Brown: Speaking of two-time losers, Brown, the former Massachusetts senator, is probably done in politics after losing to New Hampshire's Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. I will always wonder why Brown opted not to run for governor in Massachusetts, a race that was quite clearly very winnable. Speaking of Massachusetts...
* Martha Coakley: It's a very, very difficult thing to lose two major statewide races in Massachusetts as a Democrat. But Coakley, the sitting attorney general who had already lost a U.S. Senate seat to Scott Brown in 2010, did just that when she came up short against Gov.-elect Charlie Baker. Might be time to find another line of work.
* Martin O'Malley: The entire race to replace Democrat O'Malley as Maryland's governor was cast as a referendum on his two terms in office by Republican Larry Hogan. Make that Gov.-elect Hogan, who pulled off the most stunning upset of the night when he ousted heavily favored Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D). O'Malley's 2016 presidential prospects were never great, but they took a major blow Tuesday night as he couldn't even put down a rebellion in his own back yard.
* Mark Udall: Ask any Democrat what happened to Colorado Sen. Mark Udall and they all tell you the same thing: He got caught napping. Sen-elect Cory Gardner (R) initially said "no" to the race but reversed course as the political environment faded for President Obama. Udall's strict focus on reproductive rights -- which Democrats were convinced was a silver bullet against Gardner -- didn't work. At all.
* Turnout operations: In a neutral political environment, the superior ground game can matter for a point or so. But in a year in which the national playing field is so clearly tilted to Republicans, the touted Bannock Street Project, Democrats' much-discussed turnout operation, couldn't make the difference.
* Wendy Davis: No one thought Davis was going to be the next governor of Texas. But, few thought the Democrat would lose as badly as she did. Davis was on track to underperform not only Bill White' 42 percent in 2010 but also, potentially, Tony Sanchez's 40 percent in 2002. For a candidate whom many saw as the leading edge of the Democratic resurgence in Texas, that is really, really bad.