MSNBC is now projecting that Republicans will take the House. This is not at all surprising. Polls have predicted this outcome for a while.
It means John Boehner will become speaker, that Darrell Issa will be firing off the subpoenas, and that the Tea Party crowd suddenly has an institutional base for power.
It also means that Nancy Pelosi's tenure as speaker is over. I expect to read and hear a lot of people declaring that tonight's results show that she has failed. Do not be fooled. Not only was she the first woman to become speaker. She also presided over a flurry of legislative progress unmatched in recent times. She delivered financial reform. The Recovery Act. A student lending overhaul. Health care reform. And those are just the big items. Had the Senate gone along, she could have accomplished even more for the country, including a larger stimulus that might have improved the economy and given her party a chance of holding onto the House.
Needless to say, Pelosi was no bit player in these successes. On health care, in particular, she was as responsible for enactment as any individual in Washington. There are speakers who held the post for longer but not, in recent memory, speakers who accomplished more.