Politics & Policy

Winners, Losers, and Lessons Learned

Colorado senator-elect Cory Gardner on election night. (Marc Piscotty/Getty)
Understanding this historic landslide

The magnitude of the GOP’s tidal wave in Tuesday’s election is just coming into focus.

Just as in 1994’s landslide election that gave Newt Gingrich and the GOP control of the U.S. House for the first time in half a century, the media are underplaying the rout and portraying the 2014 midterm as a temper tantrum on the part of the electorate. NBC said that it was a bad night to be an incumbent. No: It was a miserable night to have a D next to your name. Only one major Republican, Governor Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, lost.

Here are some observations about what happened and why:

‐ Republicans grabbed hundreds of state legislative seats. They now control more seats in state capitals than at any time since the 1920s, unofficially. Down-ticket is where Republicans really blew out the Democrats.

‐ Why was the blowout so severe? The Fox News exit polling tells a lot of the story:

A 59 percent majority feels dissatisfied or angry toward President Obama, while 41 percent are enthusiastic or satisfied with his administration’s performance. This is similar to his job rating: 44 percent approval vs. 54 percent disapproval.

Nationally, a third of all voters said opposition to the president was a reason for their . . . vote in House races, while only 20 percent expressed support for Obama in their choice of candidate.

‐ It was a huge victory for the supply-side agenda. The tax issue was a major factor in many state races. All the GOP tax-cutting governors — Brownback, Scott, etc. — won. In many states with Democratic tax-raisers — Maryland, Massachusetts, Illinois, etc. — Republicans won. Liberals had said this election would be a referendum on taxes. It was.

‐ The big winners among the governors who want to be president were John Kasich of Ohio (who won in a super blowout), Scott Walker of Wisconsin (who won with surprising ease), and Chris Christie of New Jersey (who ran the RGA).

‐ The big loser was Tom Steyer, the billionaire hedge-fund manager who spent $50 million to $100 million and all he got was a lousy T-shirt.

‐ Hillary Clinton took a big hit with her “businesses don’t create jobs” statement, and it hurt Democrats, coming as it did one week before the election. She is still the front-runner, but it was not a good night for the Clinton enterprise.

‐ I see the Keystone Pipeline getting done quickly — Obama may even attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony — and while Obamacare might not be repealed, it will be rolled back with more exit options from the mandated benefits. The green agenda is on hold for now.

‐ Look for Joe Manchin of West Virginia to change parties soon. How do you stay a Democrat in West Virginia when an open Senate seat goes to the Rs by more than 25 points?

‐ If Ed Gillespie doesn’t win the Virginia recount, he is the odds-on favorite to be the next governor of the Old Dominion State.

‐ Look for Doug Ducey, the newly elected governor of Arizona, to emerge as a star over the next four years. The Cold Stone Creamery founder is a pro-growth supply-sider who may eliminate the Arizona income tax.

‐ Obama is turning out to be like Bill Clinton in one important way. Just as Clinton was the last Democrat standing at the end of his presidency, the same is looking to be true for Obama.

— Stephen Moore, a frequent contributor to National Review, is chief economist at the Heritage Foundation.

Stephen Moore is an economic consultant with Freedom Works and served as a senior economic adviser to the Trump campaign. His new book with Arthur Laffer is Trumponomics: Inside the America First Strategy to Revive the Economy.

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