02/10/2011 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Midterm Election Spending Thrusts Spooked Lawmakers Into Permanent Campaign Mode

Several veteran Democrats accustomed to winning reelection by lopsided margins went down in defeat -- partly because of the anti-incumbent mood of angry voters, but also because of the millions of dollars spent by outside groups in last-minute television ads.

Those who survived already are plotting how to deal with the attacks next time. There is no down time. Even the most entrenched incumbents -- including many Republicans, who could face left-leaning independent attacks in 2012 -- feel compelled to go into permanent campaign mode, further impinging on the already limited time lawmakers spend on policymaking and constituent service.

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