Midterm elections are fairly predictable for presidents in their sixth year in office. Their party nearly always gets trounced by the opposition.
So it’s not terribly surprising that Republicans beat Democrats badly last night. What is shocking is the way and where they did it.
For starters, who would dream that Mitch McConnell, not the most beloved politician even in his home state, would win with double digits? To say it wasn’t even close is an understatement. His overwhelming victory set the stage for the rest of the evening. While Scott Brown fell short in New Hampshire, he still came close to unseating Jeanne Shaheen. The fact that we’re still talking about the Virginia Senate race this morning speaks volumes about the extent of the overall Republican victory. Imagine what might have happened in Virginia if Republicans actually put money into that race.
That’s not all.
Republicans increased their House majority more than predicted. In fact, in the next Congress they’ll hold their largest majority versus the Democrats since 1948. Yes, 1948. Harry Truman was president, folks. That is indeed historic.
In governors races, Republicans won the close contests. In Wisconsin, Scott Walker won a second term in his third election (another record). Charlie Baker will be the next governor of Massachusetts of all places which will make the daily flood of requests for fundraising dollars and help for his campaign into my Inbox that I received over the past several months now seem worthwhile and not needlessly a bit annoying. Greg Abbott rolled right over Wendy Davis (which I don’t feel is an inappropriate way to describe the victory–she famously brought up the wheelchair–it’s fitting that her campaign went down in flames). And the ultimate slap down for Democrats last night? They lost the governor’s race in Maryland. Not only is that state a bastion of progressive Democrat politics, but it was regarded as so safe that Obama was even invited to campaign there.
Last night was historic in other ways. Joni Ernst, who is indeed attractive but looks nothing like Taylor Swift, is the first woman elected statewide in Iowa. In South Carolina, Senator Tim Scott is the first African American elected to the United States Senate to represent a southern state since Reconstruction. Finally, Sam Brownback managed to hold onto the governor’s chair in Kansas and truly give his conservative experiment in that state a chance to succeed.
Achieving such an overwhelming victory is indeed sweet, but now comes the heavy lifting. Republicans need to turn last night’s victories into a strong platform the party standard bearer for president can run on in 2016.