Silver lining for Republicans? 0

Barack Obama’s blowout victory over John McCain may come as a disappointment for Republicans, but it certainly comes as no surprise.

Joe Trippi, who managed Howard Dean’s campaign in 2004 and John Edwards in 2008, made an astute observation on C-SPAN the other day when he suggested that GOP operatives knew damn well that John McCain would lose the general election, and crafted a strategy to cope with this inevitability.

The theory, Trippi explained, is that Republicans went on the attack “" calling Obama a socialist, a terrorist sympathizer, an enemy of Israel and a baby killer “" not to appease independents in swing states, but rather, to energize the right-wing conservative base in the hopes that they would vote GOP down the ticket, and prevent possible Democratic takeovers in hotly-contested Senate races. The race was over and they were trying to cut legislative losses, so to speak.

“They were not using swing-state language” Trippi said.

And, it appears the strategy may have paid off. Republican Sen. Ted Stevens is up in Alaska , despite his fraud convictions last week; Sen. Norm Coleman is beating Democrat Al Franken in Minnesota (in a race that may be decided in a recount); Gordon Smith may hold on to Oregon and Saxby Chambliss may hold Georgia.

These were closes races, but a week ago Coleman, Smith and Stevens were all behind in the polls.

Make no mistake, this elections stands as a clear and unambiguous rejection of the GOP. But the sinister attacks that came from a desperate campaign, may have kept the Democrats from expanding the senate even further.