I'm not the only one who recognizes the economic import of this election. Both the blogosphere and the New York Times (!) recognize the pro-labor, anti new economy nature of the new Democractic majority. It's also interesting how the Times talks about many of these candidates bucking the conventional Democratic wisdom that what undid their majority in Congress and Clinton's presidency was the botched attempt at health care reform. I think these new democratic congresspeople and Senators are right. What destroyed the Clinton presidency and the democratic majorities in Congress was NAFTA. Theda Skopol talks about how a focus on NAFTA ruined Clinton's momentum on health care reform, but more fundamentally, the focus on passing NAFTA opened up the Democrats to attacks from social conservatives. Remember that in 1992, Ross Perot won 15% of the votes because of his opposition to free trade and current economic policy. Then comes the first major policy initiative of the Clinton presidency, a free trade agreement opposed by unions, blue collar workers, and rural americans (the same ones who switched to Democrats this fall).
I imagine most people being shived by the "new economy" looked at this situation and saw a major betrayal of the New Deal and the American dream. So why not vote your social and religious values, instead of still voting for the party that claimed to represent your economic interests, but acted differently. In other words, 1994 was like 2006 in one respect: the Democrats core constituency actedmuch like James Dobson and other Christian conservatives have talked about acting recently: if they take our votes for granted and don't move forward on our issues, what's the point of voting for them?