Last Tuesday night, Democrats took an election night beating when Republicans seized control of the United States senate, extended their lead in the House of Representatives, and even took over some gubernatorial offices in even the bluest of blue states. Democrats, suffering their worse loss in several years, are licking their wounds and looking to help their party rebound in time for the 2016 General Election.
Coming of a horrible election day for Democrats, President Obama looks ahead at the last two years of his presidency, in an effort to get things done and to secure his presidential legacy. Republicans, too, have acknowledged they want to work in a bipartisan fashion to act on areas of agreement. We’ll see how long the peaceful talking on both sides last.
Ultimately, it is safe to say that Republicans won in a huge way largely because of the Democrats’ inability to turn out the base of the party enough to maintain their hold on many of those seats. This was evident in states such as North Carolina, where a strong Democratic candidate, Kay Hagan lost her senate seat. It was evident in Virginia where Democratic incumbent senator, Mark Warner won a surprisingly close race against former Republican National Committee chair, Ed Gillespie. And it was extremely evident in the bluest of blue states such as Illinois, Maryland, and Massachusetts where Republican candidates for Governor took the top state offices. Turnout was dismal for the Democratic party and largely contributed to the loss of many of these seats nationally.
Now, the Real Talk…
Democrats are already starting to play the blame game in regards to why they couldn’t pull this particular election out. One discussion going around is whether the strategy of these Democratic candidates in swing and conservative states distancing themselves from the president was a good strategy. I have consistently argued that this was not a sound strategy as it would alienate many people in the base of the democratic party, which is a must have if they want to win elections. Some analysts have pointed to those blue states where Republicans had a good night noting that the President did go to those states and many of those candidates either lost or had tougher than usual races on election day. However, other pundits agree with me highlighting the fact that in southern states, key constituencies such as the African American community were offended by the distance these candidates put between themselves and President Obama. Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky lost that race when she refused to answer whether or not she voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. She lost by over 15 points on Tuesday and Democrats lost largely because voters in their base found the candidates loyalty to the president distasteful and they ultimately stayed home.
While Democrats lost largely in many states due to turnout, democratic policy ideas won overwhelmingly in many states’ ballot initiatives, including minimum wage, environmental, and criminal justice reform. This is particularly interesting considering the electorate is knowingly a pro-Republican electorate. It is very interesting to see even conservative voters voting for the policies that the candidates they choose are opposed to many of the initiatives that are popular with most American. Imagine the support for these policies and for the candidates that overwhelming support those policies that could have happened if more Democratic voters would have turned out a bit more.
With this in mind, I truly hope that President Obama doesn’t turn his back on the Latino community by going back on his promise to take unilateral action on immigration reform via Executive Action. Losing the Senate should not be an excuse since it was something he was going to do anyway due to Congress’ lack of ability to get anything done. Some have said that if the president went along with that promise it would provoke the new Republican majorities and they would not be able to get things done. However, I think it is incumbent on the president to keep a promise and on Republicans to prove that they can govern if they want any chance of winning the presidency in 2016.
Moving forward, I hope that Congress can work with this president and get things done. However, I also think that the President of the United States should compromise on his morals and completely give in to Republican demands. If he ends up signing on the Keystone Pipeline as a compromise, he better make sure to get something out of it such as some cap and trade or energy tax. While we hold the office of the president, we should act like he should act like he still yields some power, because he does. The elections were disappointing but that doesn’t mean that Democrats, including the president, quit fighting on their principles.
New York Times – Chastened Republicans Beat Democrats at Their Own Ground Game
Yahoo News – What happened to that Democratic turnout machine?