Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Conservative Victories in the 2010 Elections

Although the results of some contests still remain undecided at the time of this post, it is already clear that Republicans and conservatives have won many victories in the 2010 Elections, which were clearly a referendum on President Barak Obama and the Congressional liberal Democrats and their spending, borrowing and taxing, expansion of federal control over the economy, promotion of abortion, weakening of American policies in the War on Terrorism, erosion of states rights and reduction of the liberty of the people.

In the Congressional Mid-term Elections, Republicans have won control of the United States House of Representatives for the first time in four years, realizing their largest election pick-up of seats and obtaining their largest majority since the Great Depression. Although the Republicans fell short of winning a majority of the U.S. Senate, in gaining several seats in the upper chamber, the Grand Old Party has won a majority of the seats on the ballot this year, as only one-third of the Senate seats are contested every other year. The Republican caucus in both chambers will be more conservative than the one it replaces. Many of those Democrats who did prevail in the Congressional elections also ran on conservative platforms.

Federal overspending and economic takeovers, federalism political reform, illegal immigration, the War on Terrorism and the right to life were the main issues in the Congressional elections. The rebuke of the unpopular Obama by the American people was most symbolized by the loss by the Democrats of Obama’s Senate seat in Illinois. By contrast, Rob Portman of Ohio, a top figure in the Administration of President George W. Bush, won election to the U.S. Senate. The impact of the Tea Party movement on the congressional elections was noticeable, despite the losses of some high-profile candidates for U.S. Senate. Several tea party candidates won election to the Senate or House. Even where their candidates won the Republican nomination but lost the general election, there impact was felt in the elections by defeating more moderate Republicans in the primaries, which contributed to the more conservative tilt in the Republican Senate caucus, for example.

The GOP also won the majority of the contests for governor and state legislatures. A majority of states will now have Republican governors for the first time since the Bush Administration, while Republicans have won numerous legislative chambers and several hundred legislative seats across the Union. The GOP, which had long been in the minority in state legislative chambers, will now control both chambers of half the states. Overspending, political reform, federalism and illegal immigration were the main issues in these races where Republicans ran on conservative platforms. In the States, the “laboratories of reform,” Republicans will work to cut spending and taxes and reform government in ways that will provide models for other states and even the federal government. Additionally, the party control of the office of governor and the state legislature impacts on the upcoming congressional redistricting process that will increase the favorability for the GOP in the next election for U.S. House.

Republicans gained in every region, including the Midwest and even in the Northeast. After the 2008 Elections, it appeared as if the Republican Party was a mostly Southern and Western party. Since then, however, the GOP won the New Jersey gubernatorial race and a special election for U.S. Senator in Massachusetts. Those elections proved to be harbingers of a Republican resurgence in the Northeast. In addition to a U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania and several of U.S. House seats across the region, Republicans won races for governor and state legislature, gaining control of a number of legislative chambers in the Northeast, including both in New Hampshire and, for the first time since 1962, both in Maine. Of all the states in the Union, the Keystone State shifted most significantly toward the Republicans this year, which will be the subject of my next post. But the region where the GOP realized the broadest gains was the Midwest, where it picked up four U.S. Senate seats (Illinois, Indiana Wisconsin and North Dakota), several U.S. House seats, and did well in state races for governor and state legislature, including gaining both chambers in Minnesota for the first time ever. Ohio matched New York and Pennsylvania as the states with the highest number of U.S. House seats picked up by the Republicans, with five, while Republicans there won the race for governor (behind former U.S. Representative John Kasich, famous for being the architect of the balanced budget the last time Republicans won the majority in Congress) and many state legislative seats. The continued decline of the Democratic Party in the South was highlighted by the gain of a U.S. Senate seat in Arkansas and by the Republican pickup of both houses of the legislature in North Carolina and Alabama, each for the first time since Reconstruction, among other Southern gains in the federal and state elections for the Party of Lincoln.

Additionally, voters in Iowa turned three state Supreme Court justices who had ruled in favor of gay marriage out of office., while conservatives won several referenda in various states not only on economic and fiscal issues, including labor issues and the federal mandate to purchase health insurance, but also on issues like drug abuse (in California, Oregon and South Dakota) and affirmative action (Arizona). Oklahomans made English the “common and unifying” language and prohibited the use of international law, including Islamic law. Even liberal Rhode Island and Providence Plantations rejected the most ridiculous referendum, one that would have shortened the state’s name to “Rhode Island” because of a false association with the state’s plantations and slavery.

The 2010 Elections were a victory for conservative principles of fiscal responsibility, smaller, limited government, constitutional principles, strong defense, liberty and virtue. Now conservatives must use this opportunity to act upon these principles and build upon their election victories.

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