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Second chances

The Republican juggernaut that brought the GOP back to power in the U.S. House of Representatives and sliced the Democrats’ control of the U.S. Senate to a razor-thin majority prompted many party members to exult.

Wisely, some chose a different response. As House Republican Whip Eric Cantor put it, the GOP’s historic return to the majority in the House gives the party "a second chance, a golden opportunity" to prove itself to disgruntled voters who only two years ago gave the Republicans a thorough drubbing.

Tea Party favorite Marco Rubio of Florida, who captured a U.S. Senate seat for the Republicans, echoed Rep. Cantor.

"We’re making a great mistake if we believe that tonight these results are somehow an embrace of the Republican Party," Mr. Rubio said in his victory speech Tuesday. "What they are is a second chance-a second chance for Republicans to be what they said they were going to be not so long ago."

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama conceded that he and fellow Democrats had taken a "shellacking" on Election Day and said it was "humbling." He vowed to work harder to find common ground on key issues such as restoring economic growth.

Democrats fared better in New York, where voters by a large margin decided to give Andrew Cuomo another chance. Eight years ago, he suffered a humiliating rebuke when he challenged the party leaders’ pick for governor, Carl McCall. Some thought Mr. Cuomo had no future in state politics, but he learned from that setback and won election as attorney general in 2006.

Mr. Cuomo has vowed to end Albany’s dysfunction, but to do so he will need to build bridges to Republican lawmakers. Without them, he stands no chance of overcoming the special interests whose fingerprints are all over New York’s fiscal woes. (On the eve of Election Day, the state Division of the Budget delivered a sobering message for the governor-elect: New York’s projected multiyear deficit has grown to more than $41 billion.)

Victors often say they are humbled by the voters’ support, but they rarely act that way once in office. For Republicans and Democrats alike, from the White House and Congress to the state house in Albany, a bit of humility now could go a long way.

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