WASHINGTON, November 9, 2014 — Washington is waking up to the cold reality of partisan politics. What reality is that? Political power is harder to hold onto than a wet bar of soap, and voters still matter.
The amount of money spend in this election is staggering; yesterday’s was the most expensive mid-term election in history. The Center for Responsive Politics estimates that the total price tag for the 2014 election cycle will be at least $3.7 billion. Some pundits claim that the GOP and their affliated PACs greatly outspent Democrats, but that is incorrect. The CRP projects Republican spending to be $1.92 billion; the Democrats and their backers spent $1.76 billion.
What drives elections? Public perception of the success or failure of the party in power, or the influence of campaign spending? Karl Rove would argue for the latter. Even so, one of the consistent narratives of this election is the unpopularity of the President, and that likely has more to do with these results.
The Democrats knew that guilt by association was in the minds of voters. Nothing else could explain the headlong rush of incumbents and aspiring office holders to get as far away as possible from President Obama.
It’s unlikely that all the money spent on either side would have added to or subtracted from the unfavorable impressions that Democrats imprinted in the minds of the electorate. It’s particularly absurd to spend such sums in an election that produced historic new lows in voter turnout.
While the Democrats are licking their wounds and the Republicans are recovering from the hangover of celebrating their triumph, an obstacle looms in the near distance: voter expectations and a lame duck president. Democrats still control the Senate until January and Obama, from emerging reports, has no intention of abiding by the message the voters sent last night.
“Before the end of the year, we’re going to take whatever lawful action that I can take,” Obama said, arguing that Republicans could negate those moves if they passed a broader immigration bill. “I am eager to see what they have to offer, but what I’m not going to do is just wait.”
Two key issues were prominent in GOP campaigns for the Senate and House: Obamacare and amnesty for illegals. They demanded that lawmakers focus on border security and protecting American jobs. And that was the messaging of the Republican campaign effort.
Even the Weekly Standard, hardly a Tea Party-oriented website, opined:
… if Republicans take the Senate, it would be hard for objective observers not to view the result as a repudiation of the Democrats on immigration, spending, and — most of all — Obamacare … neither Obamacare nor amnesty is good for Main Street America, and Main Street Americans get to vote — even if the New York Times’s opinion pages wish it were otherwise.
And in fact, in House contests, Republicans who promised a crackdown on immigration were unseating Democrats who voted for legalization in North Carolina, Arkansas and Colorado, with a December Senate run-off in Louisiana offering yet another test.
Senator Jeff Sessions pointed out, “Republicans campaigned for the House and Senate against the Obama-Senate immigration bill and on the pledge to block President Obama’s unlawful executive amnesty … The immediate emergency facing our new majority will be fighting the president’s disastrous planned actions, and we will have not only a constitutional mandate but also a popular mandate to do so.”
In a remarkable bit of irony, Karl Rove, a noted pro-immigration reform campaign operative, sponsored an ad which ran in Iowa attacking Democrat Rep. Bruce Barley for supporting “immigration amnesty.” The ad cited a Heritage Foundation study that highlighted the significant public costs of implementing the Senate passed immigration reform bill.
Further demonstrating the public’s mood about rewarding illegal immigrants with legal status, voters in Oregon rejected a referendum providing illegals with driver’s licenses by a 2 to 1 margin.
What Americans really think about the disaster that Obamacare has proven itself to be is equally obvious from the election outcome. Real Clear Politics reports that 16 senators who voted for Obamacare either failed to win reelection or declined to run for reelection and had their seats turned over to Republicans.
Conversely, every GOP senator who flipped a Democratic seat in last night’s election campaigned on repealing Obamacare. Cory Gardner, who took Mark Udall’s seat in Colorado, said:
Small businesses and the American people cannot afford President Obama’s countless new regulations and tax increases. There is a right way and a wrong to improve our country’s healthcare system, and the President’s healthcare law just isn’t working. We need patient-centered care and lower costs. It is not too late to start over with a full repeal and replacement of the President’s healthcare law.
The Republicans wrote a check to the voters. The voters, in turn, are going to cash that check, and when they do, there had better be money in the bank to cover it.
If not, we’ve seen what happens to politicians who bounce checks.
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