Not Everything Went the Times' Way on Election Night....

Wishful thinking about Democratic wins in Florida, Kentucky, and Mississippi failed to pan out.

Not everything went the way the Times - um, the Democrats- wanted on Election night, though it may have felt that way. Congressional reporter Carl Hulse's previous optimism about Democrats possibly winning a Senate seat in Kentucky didn't pan out, as the Republican minority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, retained his seat. Southern-based reporter Adam Nossiter fretted over the special Mississippi Senate race to replace the retiring Republican Sen. Trent Lott. Finally, Miami bureau chief Damien Cave's evident hopes for a Democratic victory in one of three seats in a Cuban-American section of Miamifailed tobear fruit.

From Hulse's October 23 story on the Kentucky Senate race, pitting Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell against Democrat Bruce Lunsford:

Mr. McConnell remains favored to win re-election, but polls show the economic turmoil has created an unexpected opportunity for Mr. Lunsford, who was unsuccessful in two campaigns for governor of Kentucky. Democrats would sorely like to knock off the man they see as a main roadblock in the Senate.

McConnell pulled his race out, winning 53%-47%.

Things aren't as clear for another race Hulse pushed, involving another vulnerable Southern Republican, Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia. As of Wednesday afternoon, Chambliss was ahead of his Democratic opponent Jim Martin 50%-47%, but the race could be heading for a run-off, given Georgia's unusual set-up in which a candidate must earn 50% of the vote. (Libertarian Allen Buckley won over 3% of the Senate vote, likely contributing to Chambliss's position.)

The online headline to Carl Hulse's October 30 story, "Heavy Black Turnout Threatens Georgia Senator," presaged the hopeful pro-Democratic content. Chambliss, the senator in question, has been unpopular among Democrats and the Times sincehis 2002 race, when heallegedly smeared his opponent, former Democratic Sen. Max Cleland in a campaign ad. Hulse relayed the popular Times falsehood that Chambliss "libeled" Cleland, oozing:

Democrats would revel in defeating Mr. Chambliss. In 2002, they accused him of libeling Mr. Cleland, a badly wounded and decorated Vietnam veteran, with an advertisement that questioned his commitment to fighting terrorism. They now view Mr. Martin as the potential key to a 60-vote Senate, a distinction with which Mr. Martin seems slightly uncomfortable.

Southern-based reporter Adam Nossiter's October 18 story from Jackson, MS painted Democratic prospects for upsetting Republican interim Sen. Roger Wicker in harsh, literally black-and-white terms:

The numbers in this state - which has perhaps the most racially polarized electorate in the nation - do not favor the Democrat: whites, the majority, overwhelmingly vote Republican, and 85 percent of them voted for President Bush in 2004. Even if there is a record black turnout, Mr. Musgrove would have to get about 30 percent of the white vote to win. Nonetheless, analysts give Mr. Musgrove, a hill-country populist who championed education during his terms as governor and lieutenant governor, a better-than-passing chance, particularly as the credit squeeze penetrates even here.

Wicker won 55%-45%.

Finally, Miami bureau chief Damien Cave's October 29 story eagerly traced the prospects of three Democrats in Cuban-American districts in Miami that Cave pondered could go Democrat, with huge ramifications for America's Cuba policy.

Cave laid out figures showing two of the three races - pitting Raul Martinez and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, and Republican Mario Diaz-Balart (Lincolns' brother) against Democrat Joe Garcia - to be close, and found a narrowing gap inanother race, between Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Democrat Annette Taddeo.

Cave set the victory bar low - if any of those three Democrats had won, Cave would have marked it as a sea change in Cuban-American politics:

A victory by any of the Democrats could bring to Washington a new approach to Latin America, which has been dominated by the Republicans' combativeness with Cuba.

But the Democrats failed to clear Cave's low bar on Election Day, as the Republican candidates won all three races : Ileana Ros-Lehtinen beat Annette Taddeo in the 18th District easily, 58%-42%. In the 21st District, Lincoln Diaz-Balart beat Raul Martinez handily, 58%-42%, while his brother Mario Diaz-Balart nipped Joe Garcia in the 25th District, 53%-47%.