Republicans greeted Barack Obama’s presidency with a calculated wave of total opposition. They would not cut a deal on health care or on the federal budget, each time accepting the risk of total defeat rather than settle for half-measures, like giving Democrats some kind of token health care reform or small tax increase. … The gamble was that by denying Obama any support, they would render his presidency wholly partisan at best, and a dysfunctional failure at worst. They would increase their own chances of denying him a second term, and that their return to power would allow them to claim a full and absolute break with the past. They shoved all their chips onto tonight’s election. When the networks called it at 11:15 pm, the totality of the right’s failure was clear. And because they bid up the stakes as high as they could, their loss was unusually devastating.
— Jonathan Chait, writing in New York Magazine.