Obama Proves to Be a Heavy Load for Dems
Just three days after Halloween, the specter of Barack Obama’s disastrous presidency haunted voting booths across the country, delivering sweeping — and in some cases stunning — victories for Republicans nationwide.
Most newsworthy was conservative Republican Matt Bevin’s upset win over state Attorney General Jack Conway to secure Kentucky’s governorship. Nearly every poll leading up to the election showed Conway in the lead, but Bevin delivered a nine-point win in the only poll that matters — counted votes. He became just the second Republican governor elected in the last half century. And Bevin is hardly a middle-of-the-road Republican. He openly campaigned on his conservative social positions and vocally supported county clerk Kim Davis in her refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses.
By the way, Bevin’s lieutenant governor-elect is Jenean Hampton, a self-made woman who worked herself up from poverty, retired from the Air Force at the rank of Captain, and is a Tea Party candidate endorsed by Rand Paul. And she’s the first black woman to be elected to a statewide office in Kentucky.
Bevin and Hampton weren’t alone in tasting victory in the Bluegrass State. Down-ballot, the incumbent state auditor, Adam Edelen, whom Democrats hoped would challenge Sen. Paul next year, was ousted by Republican State Rep. Mike Harmon. As Paul noted of Democrats' stunning losses in his state, “Not only has President Obama destroyed the party in Kentucky, he’s destroyed the bench. The bench that was supposed to rise up and run for office — that’s gone.”
The Obama effect took its toll on Democrats elsewhere, too. In Virginia, voters dealt a blow to Democrat Governor Terry McAuliffe by ensuring the state Senate will stay in Republican hands despite the governor’s pre-election campaign blitz designed to flip the chamber. In fact, it appears that Democrats' aggressive push for gun control contributed to their losses.
Tuesday night was also rough for leftist policies, even in leftist enclaves. San Francisco’s pro-sanctuary-city Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi was defeated in a landslide. Meanwhile, Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected legalizing marijuana, and a Houston ordinance that would have allowed men — including sexual predators — dressed as women to use women’s restrooms failed 62-38. Even voters in Portland, Maine, rejected a $15-an-hour minimum wage.
Such wins are not actually all that shocking, though. As the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent wrote recently, the Democrat Party has dug a “deep, deep hole” for itself on the state level. It’s a hole that’s “allowing major GOP policy advances on the state level, and imperiling Democratic chances … of winning back the [U.S.] House anytime soon.”
Is it any wonder? A year ago, Mark Alexander summarized the damage Obama has done to the Democrat brand — with an administration marked by a struggling economy, scandals that make Watergate look ethical, the rise of the Islamic state, a disastrous health care law, IRS targeting, Fast and Furious — the list goes on.
As one Republican strategist noted, since Obama took office, Democrats have lost 12 governorships, 13 Senate seats, 69 House seats, and more than 900 state legislature seats. Indeed, Republicans now control 68 of 98 partisan state legislative chambers, as well as 31 governorships — 32 once Bevin is sworn in.
Granted, the night was not a total victory for Republicans. In New Jersey, for example, four incumbent GOP state legislators lost their seats. And in neighboring Pennsylvania, Democrats swept three open seats on the state Supreme Court.
Yet, at nearly every opportunity, voters are punishing local Democrats for Obama’s fundamental overreach.
What does this mean moving forward?
As Republicans have been known all too often to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, one thing this year’s election does not mean is that Republicans will continue coasting to victory indefinitely. Democrats are strategizing how to reverse the trend of local losses, and complacency is not an option for conservatives. Recent elections also aren’t a referendum on the popularity of Republicans so much as on the unpopularity of Obama’s policies.
But one thing is clear: Nationwide, voters are continuing their wholesale rejection of Obama’s fundamental transformation of America. And despite the picture painted in Washington, the momentum on the state and local levels is on the side of conservatives.
It’s up to those of us who love Liberty to make sure it stays there.