Mid-Term Bloodbath Reveals Cracks in Democrats' Racial, Gender Divisions
The mid-term elections were an epic butt-kicking for Democrats in more ways than one. Not only was it the second disastrous mid-term election in a row for Democrats, it also revealed some serious cracks in the party’s carefully crafted electoral model whereby Democrats divide voters along racial, gender, and socio-economic lines, and then cobble together a majority by stoking grievances against those not in the protected classes.
First, let’s analyze of just how disastrous this election was for Democrats. On election day, Republicans needed a net gain of six seats to take control of the upper chamber, and by midnight Republicans had picked up seven seats, lost none, and are poised to pick up two more seats after the final vote counts in Alaska (where the Republican challenger is up 49%-45% on Democrat incumbent Mark Begich), and a run-off in Louisiana, giving them a net gain of nine seats in this election cycle. And they almost lost a seat in Virginia that no one even had on the radar.
In the U.S. House, Republicans started the day with a 233-199 majority, and by the time the polls closed on November 4th, Republicans had swelled their majority to 243 seats (won 15 seats, lost 3), with the chance of that total being 249 seats once a half dozen close races report their final tallies. This represents the largest Republican majority as of now since the administration of Harry Truman, and if the other seats break their way, it will be the largest majority since the administration of Woodrow Wilson.
Republicans also did well in gubernatorial races, an area where Republicans were considered especially vulnerable. Going into the elections, Republicans controlled 29 governor’s mansions to the Democrat’s 21, and it looked like Democrats were poised for pick-ups in red states like Kansas, Georgia, Florida, and Wisconsin, and Democrats looked to win Texas as well, at least until Democrat Wendy Davis imploded in the final months. Yet by election night, Republicans had won re-election in every state except Pennsylvania, and had picked up shocking wins in the very “blue” states of Maryland, Massachusetts, and Obama’s home state of Illinois.
The slaughter of Democrats continued all the way down to the state level. On November 3rd, the GOP controlled 59 of the 98 partisan legislative chambers nationwide (Nebraska has a non-partisan, unicameral state legislature, lean heavily Republican), but by the end of the night on November 4th, the GOP’s control extended to a staggering 67 partisan chambers, having gained the state Senates in Colorado and Maine, the state House chambers in New Hampshire, New Mexico, Minnesota, and West Virginia, and both houses of the Nevada General Assembly, breaking the record set by the GOP with the huge gains made in 2012. This means the GOP now controls the governorship and both legislative chambers in 24 states, compared to only a half dozen for Democrats.
To put that in perspective, since Obama first took the oath of office, his party has lost 13 Senate seats and 69 House seats, with two more Senate seats and as many as six House seats likely to flip Republican in the coming weeks. That is not including any possible defections; Maine Senator Angus King, an independent, has offered to caucus with the Republicans, and I would not be surprised at all to see Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who was elected by running as a conservative who would stand up to Obama’s progressive policies, decide that it might just be time to switch parties.
To parrot Obama – “let me be clear” – this election was not so much a rally to the Republican Party as it was a complete and utter repudiation of Obama-style progressivism. Indeed, how could it be an embrace of Republicans? The Republicans, at least as a matter of national party strategy, made a conscious decision to not offer up a contrast or alternative to the Obama agenda. There was nothing along the lines of a 1994 Contract With America, no “elect us and we’ll do X, Y, and Z.” Likely in an attempt to avoid another Todd Akin moment, Republicans seemed to, for the most part, sit back and let the results of the Obama agenda speak for themselves; sustained high unemployment, a sluggish economy, rising health care costs and less access to doctors, a combination of apathy and fecklessness to the rising evil and tyranny throughout the world. It does seem fitting that after the inexperienced, untested Obama won election simply by being “not Bush,” Republicans now sit back and win landslides by simply being “not Obama.”
Maybe the most fascinating dynamic to watch coming out of this election was the first indications of the cracks in the dam that hold in the fetid cesspool of political opportunism that has been the Democrat model for decades. The Democrat playbook has been to divide people along racial, gender, and socio-economic lines and then cobble together a majority to gain electoral power; Black/Hispanic vs. White, Man vs. Woman, the Rich vs. the Poor, a formula that showed the first real signs of coming apart this election cycle.
First of all, it is hard to maintain the claim that the Democrat Party is the home of diversity when 93% of the Democrats’ governor/senate candidates are white, and 75% are white males. For all their claims of inclusion, lily-white, rich liberals still want women and minorities kept out of the highest echelons of power.
By contrast, the GOP just re-elected Indian-American female Nikki Haley as governor of South Carolina, and elected black Republican Tim Scott to the Senate (with 88% of the white vote compared to 10% of the black vote…are South Carolina blacks racist?). Reddest of red states Utah just elected Mia Love, a Haitian-born black woman, to Congress, and Iowa elected female Republican Jodi Ernst to the Senate. GOP voters in New York state also just elected the youngest woman to ever serve in Congress, Elise Stefanik, with a 22-point stomping of her Democrat challenger.
The GOP had already elected Mexican-American governors in New Mexico (Susanna Martinez), Nevada (Brian Sandoval), and Indian-American governor Bobby Jindal (Louisiana), as well as Cuban-American senators Marco Rubio (Florida) and Ted Cruz (Texas). The great thing about these GOP minority elected officials is that, true to the dream of Dr. King, they were elected for their conservative principles and the content of their character, not the color of their skin.
Democrats beat the dead horse meme of the “Republican War on Women” until it was a puddle of glue. Incumbent Democrat Senator Mark Udall of Colorado was dubbed “Mark Uterus” because of his single-themed campaign that flopped with voters. Senator-elect and Iraq War combat veteran Joni Ernst mocked the Democrats claims of a war on women, saying she had been to war, and rejecting the comparison. Republicans also elected Shelley Moore Capito as the first female senator ever from West Virginia.
Democrat efforts at stoking racial fears and grievances also fell flat, despite sending out fliers in states like Georgia and North Carolina implying that black kids will be killed if Republicans are elected.
Unlike 2012, there was not much enthusiasm for Democrats among constituencies that they desperately need support from; blacks, Hispanics, the youth, Asian-Americans, and women. In fact, in a development that must be especially distressing to Democrats, Republican Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia won 47%, Georgia Republican Senate candidate David Perdue won 42% of the Hispanic vote. In Texas, Republican Greg Abbot won 44% of the Hispanic vote, six points higher than Governor Rick Perry achieved in 2010. In Kansas, Republican Governor Sam Brownback won 47% of the Hispanic vote.
Everywhere you look, the Democrat talking points are falling apart. Political commentator Juan Williams claimed that the election was a rejection of incumbents, yet Republicans lost a combined five seats nationwide in the U.S. House, U.S. Senate, and governor’s races. In fact, the vast majority of incumbent Republicans won by comfortable margins.
Obama has struck a defiant tone, claiming he has heard the voice of the people on the one hand, but promising to continue implementing his progressive agenda anyway, whether Congress likes it or not. Democrats fled from Obama in the final months of the election, and it makes you wonder what kind of shape he will leave his party in after two more years of pretending to be emperor.
Finally, a significant problem for Democrats is that their core constituencies are more and more coming into conflict with one another. Blacks are resentful of Obama’s encouragement of illegal immigration, which primarily comes from Hispanic nations, and which disproportionately hurts them in the job market. Black mothers want school choice to free their children from failing schools, which places them in conflict with the public school system employees and teachers unions. Affirmative action policies give preference to less qualified black and Hispanic students at the expense of higher-performing Asian-American students.
Following the 2008 elections, Democrat strategist and Clinton insider James Carville famously said that Republicans had been exiled to the electoral wilderness, and that Democrats would rule Washington D.C. for the next forty years. It seems that claims of the Grand Old Party’s death were a bit premature.