BAYHAM: The Big Rebuke

The midterm election held in the sixth year of a two-term president is generally considered a referendum of the administration.

Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush saw their party’s caucus in Congress greatly diminished in that particular election cycle. And in almost all cases, public fatigue with the occupant of the White House generally exacerbated the losses.

The lone exception to the rule was Bill Clinton, whose popularity rose towards the tail-end of his presidency, though the opposition party maintained majorities in both houses of Congress.

What happened on Tuesday night was giant rebuke to the Obama Administration, from his policies to his posturing, though it doesn’t seem that he got the memo.  Funny how a man who thinks everything is about him has conveniently found a day when he didn’t matter.

Truth be told, the results should have been far worse and were mitigated by the three major television network’s indifference to the 2014 midterms (in glaring contrast to the Jaws music they played going into the GOP’s 2006 shellacking) and the Democratic Party & Friends’ voter turnout operation and demagogic racial messaging that is akin to what the same party peddled a century ago.

Fortunately, much of the Democrats’ carping has grown stale, including the worn out “War on Women” narrative that has been rejected by both genders.

The polls had shown that the GOP was poised to make modest pickups in the both chambers of Congress and the possibility that control of the US Senate might not be known until Georgia and Louisiana conducted their runoffs.

Though things looked bleak for the Democrats early when Virginia’s US Senate race, a contest which showed the Republican challenger no better than seven points behind ended up being declared too close to call and is still being sorted out.  From there, the losses began to mount, including in North Carolina, which had been considered a relatively safe Democratic hold up until a week ago.  The Democrats ended up losing their grasp on the senate while people were still voting in Anchorage, Alaska.

Perhaps the most satisfying win of the night for Republican activists was in Florida where Charlie Crist distinguished himself as being one of the few people to have lost a statewide election under three different labels.

In 2008, Crist rushed into sudden nuptials as part of his preparation to be considered as John McCain’s running mate.  Two years later the “fan” fan bolted the GOP for political androgyny when he realized that he couldn’t win his own party primary for US Senate despite being a sitting governor.  Crist then began to embrace his latest political identity, bashing the party whose vice-presidential nomination he had previously coveted at the Democratic National Convention and then running as a Democrat for governor.  Floridians (including the rapper Pit Bull) rejected Crist’s latest political wardrobe change and re-elected Governor Rick Scott, whose chances of winning were considered dim as early as 2011.

Kansas proved to be another surprise win for the Republicans.  Both Governor Sam Brownback and US Senator Pat Roberts were written off by the pundiratti.  Roberts limped out of a bruising primary and seemed doomed to lose to another candidate with severe political identity issues.  However, the Kansas GOP, under the guidance of their thirty-something year old chairman Kelly Arnold, managed to pull off two upsets.

Besides Kansas and Florida, Republicans scored major gubernatorial retentions in Maine, Ohio, Wisconsin, New Mexico and Michigan.  As if to put the exclamation point on the Obama rebuke, his adopted home state of Illinois elected a Republican governor as did Massachusetts and the deep blue line state of Maryland, voting in its second GOP governor since Spiro Agnew left to become vice-president.

Colorado and Iowa were significant victories, as Republicans took over Democratic US Senate seats in states that had voted for Barack Obama twice.  The former was considered a test of whether the Republican Party could be expected to compete there in 2016 and in the latter, conservative Joni Ernst is poised to become the Democrats main target of personal vilification as they seek to make her out to be “Palin, Jr.”.

All told the Democrats lost a net 3 governorships, 12 US Representatives and 7 US Senators- so far as that number may yet climb higher pending the Virginia recount, the Alaska absentee vote tabulations and the December runoffs in Louisiana.  In the case of Alaska, the Democratic incumbent would need to win 70% of the outstanding ballots to survive, an unlikely prospect.  There is no Cook County in the Last Frontier.

While 2014 was not 1994, it was a demonstration that America is not happy with Obama as the enablers of his agenda bore the brunt of the electorate’s dissatisfaction and were cast out of office.

That said the message sent to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will likely be marked “return to sender.”



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