Midterm Voters Go Their Separate Waves
If Tuesday night was a referendum on Donald Trump, it probably wasn’t the one liberals were hoping for. In what could have been a bruising night for Republicans, Democrats walked away with a big prize, to be sure, but it wasn’t the historic drubbing most liberals were counting on. “This is no blue wave,” CNN’s Jake Tapper said, as the returns were pouring in. And while retaking the House is nothing to sneeze at, most liberals will tell you it’s where they lost the ground that hurts: the U.S. Senate.
In a night where both parties have something to hang their hats on, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has to be incredibly proud of not only keeping his chamber – but widening the margins. For all of the GOP’s challenges over the last two years, Senate Republicans managed to turn 2018 into a mandate on one thing: the courts. That’s no small accomplishment, especially since it bucks 70 years of electoral trends. Most presidents lose seats in the House and Senate in their first midterm election. (Barack Obama leads the pack at 63!) In fact, there’ve only been five times in the last 105 years that an incumbent president has won seats in the Senate in the off-year election. And President Trump just became one of them.
Most experts will sum up that success in two words: Brett Kavanaugh. It’s no accident that almost every Democratic senator in a red state who voted against Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court lost — Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), and Bill Nelson (Fla.). The only one who voted for the president’s pick — Joe Manchin (W. Va.) — survived. Coincidence? Hardly. Americans on both sides were disgusted by the Democrats’ treatment of the father of two. The Left’s strategy — trying to destroy an innocent man’s career and family — backfired in a spectacular way. “I think it was like an adrenaline shot” to the Republican base, McConnell said Wednesday. Now, ironically, GOP leaders have an even bigger majority to confirm constitutionalists.
And McConnell intends to. Although the president will have his hands full with a Nancy Pelosi-led House, the Senate can push down even harder on the accelerator when it comes to their dizzying pace of judicial confirmations. That’s critical when you consider that apart from the tax cuts, most of the heavy lifting under President Trump has been done by the Senate in nominations, personnel, or by the administration itself through executive order. That won’t stop. While House Democrats are busy investigating everyone under the sun, the Senate will keep cranking out judges whose impact will outlast everyone’s. And after Tuesday night, they’ll have more committed conservatives to help them do it.
Despite a split decision Tuesday, there was one big loser — Hollywood. Turns out, Americans don’t really give a rip what celebrities think about politics. They might like your song lyrics or cheer your jump shot, but when it comes to influencing elections, most stars don’t. In a poll after Taylor Swift’s big gamble — publicly bashing Tennessee pro-lifer Marsha Blackburn — Americans were blunt. If you want to encourage people to vote, that’s one thing. If you want to criticize Republicans, that’s another thing entirely.
A laundry list of celebrities stuck their necks out for radical candidates and hardly any of them have a seat to show for it. Swift, who stunned fans by calling Blackburn “sickening” and accusing her of “systematic racism,” lost more than respect Tuesday night. After insisting that Marsha Blackburn’s record “appalls and terrifies” her, Swift’s candidate, Phil Bredesen, lost big. “I hope it was worth it,” tweeted Katie Pavlich, noting how many people the singer alienated. So much for star power.
Elsewhere, Hollywood fared just as badly. In Georgia, where Stacey Abrams (D) is still trailing Republican and religious freedom advocate Brian Kemp for governor, not even Oprah or Will Farrell’s stumping seem to have pulled her over the line. In Texas, NBA star Lebron James whiffed with his Beto O'Rourke (D) endorsement, while Cher and Alyssa Milano’s picks for governor in Idaho and Florida fell flat in races with Butch Otter (R-Idaho) and Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.). Over at “Saturday Night Live,” where Pete Davidson made fun of war veteran Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), saying his combat injury made him look like a “hitman in a porno movie,” the joke was on SNL. “[Navy] SEALs don’t get offended,” he said in his victory speech. But this one did get even.
At the end of the day, the biggest winner may have very well been democracy. With a record-breaking 114 million voters — the high-water mark in midterm election history — Americans on both sides took their responsibility to vote seriously. For evangelicals, who’d been counted out months ago by the mainstream media, Tuesday night’s results sent a clear message that when we have a chance to make a difference, we will. In states where the battles were fiercest, our enthusiasm was highest. Almost every exit poll credits the GOP’s gains in the Senate to people like you, who committed to pray, to vote, and to stand.
Were there disappointments Tuesday night? Absolutely. Our preference would have been for those aligned with the conservative agenda to retain control of Congress. That didn’t happen. So what do we do going forward? We continue to pray. We pray for our country. We pray for our government. We pray for our leaders — those we agree with, and those that we don’t agree with. We keep our eyes on the prize. We voted, and we’ll vote again next time. But for now we stand on the transcendent truths that we know are unchanging — no matter who’s in power.
Originally published here.
A Life-Changing Election…
If there were any takeaways everyone could agree on this morning, it’s this: pro-lifers won big. New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters noted that it was hard to ignore how much ground values voters gained by electing — not just Republicans, but solid, reliable conservatives. In the most hotly contested Senate races, where evangelical turnout was highest, pro-lifers were rewarded in a big way that, even the Times points out, “will help the party advance one of its bedrock issues.”
Obviously, the election of Josh Hawley in Missouri, Mike Braun in Indiana, Kevin Cramer in North Dakota, and Rick Scott in Florida is significant for a lot of reasons, but mainly because they help make for a more ideologically conservative Senate. And evangelicals deserve a lot of credit for that. Nationally, they were within a point of their average turnout in the midterm elections — 26 percent — but in states where a battleground Senate seat was in play, they outperformed almost every other demographic. As CBN’s David Brody tweeted Tuesday night, the power of the evangelical was on full display in the four races that snatched the Senate out of the Left’s reach.
Evangelicals’ enthusiasm turned out 30 percent in Florida, 38 percent in Missouri, 37 percent in North Dakota, and a whopping 40 percent in Indiana. All states where FRC Action was in action (see story below). These turnout numbers are anywhere from a four to 13-point participation boost in states that flipped conservative! Some of that excitement had a spillover effect on governors’ races, delivering two very important states in advance of 2020: Ohio and Florida, where Mike DeWine (R) and Ron DeSantis (R) will now have a major say in abortion funding and election redistricting.
In the three states where voters had the opportunity to directly decide life issues, Alabamans and West Virginians did — giving the green light on two ballot initiatives that will officially spell it out in both state constitutions that abortion is not a fundamental right.
Even in the House, where Republicans experienced the biggest setbacks, most — not all — of the GOP members who lost were not strong conservative leaders. There were a couple in difficult districts. But by and large, what these midterms did was squeeze out the moderates. “Voters have sent 19 House Republican incumbents and counting home…” Roll Call explains. “The losses cut across all factions of the Republican Conference but most of the incumbents going home after this term are moderate members. With the number of House Republicans shrinking next year, conservatives are poised to become a larger portion of the conference.”
So what we’re witnessing — and this has been happening over the last 12 years — is a refinement of the House, where the GOP is actually becoming a more condensed bloc of ideological conservatives. Of course, Democrats chased the moderates out of their party years ago, so in many ways, the margins are gone. That only helps position movements like ours to act. When Congress reconvenes — even with the gavel in Democratic hands — Americans may begin to see true conservative leadership emerge. And that may be the greatest victory of all.
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.