On the morning of November 5, Democrats across the country woke up a bit shellshocked, because on November 4, Democratic candidates got a bit shellacked. Republicans swept in almost all contested midterm elections, winning control of the Senate by picking up seats in MT, SD, AK, AR, CO, WV and NC. For the first time in his Presidency, Barack Obama will face a Congress with both chambers united against him. The Republican sweep reached state houses as well, with Republicans securing governorships in purple states like Wisconsin and Florida, and solidly blue states such as Maryland and Massachusetts.
The common topic of conversation among the Washington punditry prior to Tuesday's elections was whether it would be a "wave" election for Republicans. In the end, the degree to which the GOP dominated outdid even the most fanciful partisan predictions. Republicans now control a much greater portion of our government than before, which begs the questions: Why did this happen and what will happen now?
Apart from anger at the president, voters went to the polls on Tuesday, overwhelmingly believing that the United States was on the wrong track. Nearly 80 percent of the electorate doesn't trust the government in Washington. Voters associated the Democratic Party with the political status quo and took out their frustration by electing Republicans.
In addition to political frustration, the demographic makeup of the electorate had a major effect on the result. During the 2008 and 2012 elections, the Obama campaign was able to turnout record numbers of young voters, single women and minorities. In 2014, Democrats utterly failed to turnout any of their target demographics. The electorate was very white and very old, the very voters that most often side with the GOP. In Maryland, Anne Arundel businessman and Republican Larry Hogan was able to pull off a shocking upset against Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown because Hogan won the white vote by overwhelming margins and Brown failed to turnout blacks and urban voters. This phenomenon shouldn't come as a surprise: in elections, and especially in midterms, angry voters show up with much greater regularity than voters who are satisfied with their government. In 2014, Republicans and many independents were angry and they voted to show their displeasure.
Whatever your political affiliation, Tuesday's election signifies a major political shift in the United States. Republicans now have the chance to pass a clear and comprehensive agenda through Congress. They now have the chance to try and work with Democratic legislators in blue states to pass more centrist policy. A new period has emerged in American politics, and the best thing we can do is sit back and watch it unfold.
Maximillian Foley-Keene. Hello! My name is Max and I'm an Editor in Chief for SCO this year. I like writing about what I think, especially current events, American foreign and economic policy. I also like music (jazz and 2000s post-punk are my favorites), art (Wassily Kandinsky is … More »