Sunday, December 18, 2016

Conservative Analysis of the 2016 General Election across the Union

           The 2016 General Election across the Union was a triumph for Republicans, but not necessarily for conservatism, as their ticket was lead by a non-conservative candidate and there were more liberal victories in referenda than conservative ones among several of the States, although many conservative Republicans were elected to federal and state offices.

            At the top of the ballot was the office of United States presidential Electors (members of the Electoral College), as the election was for them, even though voters cast ballots under the names of presidential and vice presidential nominees.  Electors are chosen by parties or candidates.  The Republican Electors, in the name of Donald J. Trump and Michael Pence as their party’s nominees for President and Vice President, respectively, appear to have won 306 of the 538 seats in the Electoral College, pending the certification of the election of the Electors by the House and Senate, respectively.  They collectively did not win a majority or even a plurality, with only 46% of the votes, nearly 2.9 million less than the Democratic Electors. 

The former liberal Democrat Trump appeared to adopt some conservative positions, but held some views to the left of even the liberal Democratic nominee and was generally a big-government populist, protectionist, nativist and isolationist.  He relied on deception, both about his record as a businessman, and by the spread of false or misleading information, as well as through fear and intimidation among any who would criticize him.  Trump also benefited from an unprecedented foreign interference in the American election, namely hacking, leaking and propaganda and disinformation from the Communist Russian Federation on his behalf.

As a result of the nomination of a non-conservative by the Republican Party, there were seven million votes cast for the Electors for non-major party candidates, including many for conservatives and Republicans, both on the ballot or as registered write-in candidates, or as symbolic write-in votes for non-registered candidates.  Well over 600,000 votes were cast for the Electors for conservative Evan McMullin the former Central Intelligence Agency anti-terrorism agent and House Republican Policy Director who was unknown when he announced his candidacy only 90 days before the election.  In Utah, with over 20% of the vote, he became the closet to getting his Electors elected in any state since Ross Perot in 1992.  There was also an unusually large undervote (the skipping of a particular office on the ballot by voters who vote for other offices) of perhaps two million votes for the Electors.  In fact, in several other States, conservative Republican Senate candidates, including some who opposed Trump, received more votes than those of the Trump-Pence Electors and there were five million more votes for Republican House candidates across the Union in collectively than for the Trump-Pence Electors.

Even though the conservative effort to oppose Trump was not successful in denying a majority for the Republican Electors, the movement was successful in allowing conservatives to vote their consciences, in demonstrating the separation between conservatism and the Republican Party’s platform and denying Trump a popular mandate.  The anti-Trump movement’s efforts continue to persuade Electors to vote for a fit conservative Republican who is not a demagogue or asset of the Russians when the Electoral College conducts the presidential election tomorrow, which will be the subject of my next post.

In the Congressional elections, Republicans won by retaining their majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, despite losing seats in both chambers, as there were no Trump coattails.  As with the Senate, there were numerous GOP House candidates who did not support Trump.  The Republican Congressional majority will have to defend the Separation of Powers by being a check on the President, resisting the expansion of executive power at the expense of that of the Legislative Branch, advance any conservative policies while rejecting non-conservative ones, confirm conservative appointment and reject non-conservative ones.

For state offices, Republicans gained a net of one Governor, thereby adding to their large majority, while picking up additional state legislative chambers, including the Kentucky House of Representatives, the last Democratic-held one in the South (not including Maryland and Delaware as Southern).  The results for federal and state offices in Pennsylvania were the focus of an earlier post this month, as the results there, as elsewhere, were only recently certified.

Although there were many referenda among the States that were approved by the voters that were contrary to conservatism, especially in regard to legalizing marijuana, there were several that were not.  Voters in Arizona rejected a measure to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.  Maine’s voters rejected a referendum requiring background checks for certain gun sales.  Nebraskans approved a referendum to reinstate the death penalty, while the voters of Oklahoma vote affirmatively for a question of guaranteeing the state’s authority to impose capital punishment, while Californians rejected a referendum that would have repealed the death penalty.  

The results of the 2016 General Election, although generally a rejection of liberal Democratic candidates, if not necessarily of liberal ideas, have created some opportunities and dangers for conservatives and Republicans.  They must be wise in advancing the cause of liberty and good government.

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