Sunday, November 9, 2014

Conservative Analysis of the 2014 General Election

           Now that the final contests are being determined, it is possible to analyze comprehensively the 2014 General Election.  The results were a dramatic wave for Republicans and especially for conservatives for both federal and state offices.

            The most significant outcome of the General Election was for the United States Senate, where Republicans gained 8 seats to win their first majority in the upper chamber of Congress in eight years.  They will have at least 53 Senators in their caucus, pending a run-off election in Louisiana.  Three incumbent Democrats were defeated, while no incumbent Republicans lost, nor did the GOP lose any open seat it held.

Republicans also added a net of 12 members to their caucus in the House of Representatives, giving them their largest majority since before the Great Depression, 244-189, pending the outcome of two runoff elections in Louisiana in GOP-leaning districts.  Republicans had held a 232-202 majority, as there were two vacancies, two of which had been held by Republicans, the other by a Democrat.  They had won control of the lower chamber in the 2010 mid-term Congressional elections. 

            The federalization of health insurance, also known as “Obamacare,” fiscal policy, terrorism and energy were issues of most concern to voters.  The electorate rejected the liberal Democrats’ main campaign plank on contraception and abortion, while the voters did not find the Democrats’ promises to increase the minimum wage sufficiently appealing.  The numerous scandals and perceived incompetence of the Obama Administration also weighed on Democratic candidates.  These midterm elections were widely viewed as a referendum on President Barack Obama’s performance.  He will now have to govern with both houses of Congress controlled by the loyal opposition.   

            The Republican wave extended to state elections.  The GOP gained a net of two Governors, giving them a 31-18 edge, the most Governors for either party in 17 years, and set records in state legislative contests.  Republicans gained nine legislative bodies, giving the party 67, which is three more than the previous record of 64.  The Democrats control 31, as Nebraska has a unicameral legislature and the Republicans also gained a tie with the Democrats in the West Virginia Senate.  Republicans now hold the office of governor and the majority of both houses of the state legislature in 23 States, while the liberal Democrats can count only seven States in their column, down from their previous total of 13.  The net gain of more than 250 state legislators gives the Republicans over 4,001 across the Union, breaking the previous record set in 1928.

            The Republicans successes for various federal and state offices in West Virginia, Arkansas, Nevada and New Mexico were particularly historic, but the geographic scope of the party’s victories was broad.  The GOP not only held onto many of the offices it had picked up in the 2010 General Election in various regions, but achieved gains that were not confined to their strongholds in the South, the Plains and the Mountain West.  Indeed, Republicans gained in the Midwest and even in the Northeast and Pacific coast, in addition to their strongholds.  In the Midwest, Republicans knocked the incumbent liberal Democratic Governor in Obama’s home state of Illinois out of the gubernatorial mansion and picked up a U.S. Senate seat in Iowa, while gaining U.S. House seats in both States.  Six of the upper Midwestern States will now be led by Republican Governors.  In the Northeast, Republicans were elected Governors in Massachusetts and Maryland.  The GOP also gained five U.S. House seats in that Democratic regional stronghold, including two pickups in New England, where they had no U.S. Representatives, and three in New York, while gaining the majority in the Senate of that State and also regaining control of Maine’s Senate, which they had picked up in 2010, but lost in 2012.  The voters of Washington State elected Republicans to the majority of their state Senate.  In addition, Republicans increased their ranks of state legislators in many States, including even Democratic-dominated California and Pennsylvania, despite losing the office of governor in the Keystone State.

           Of various referenda of particular interest to conservatives, a referendum to increase pro-life regulations was approved in Tennessee, while voters in Massachusetts voted No to a ballot question to increase gasoline taxes, and Nevadans rejected a referendum to raise taxes for education spending.  A ballot question to permit people to obtain drivers’ licenses who had no proof of legal residence was rejected by Oregonians.     

           The election hardly reflected an anti-incumbent sentiment, as only a handful of Republican officeholders were not reelected in any federal or state gubernatorial elections, only a more anti-Democratic sentiment.  The voters elected or reelected Republican candidates who were conservative or at least campaigned on conservative issues.     

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