First of all, let me say I’m not horribly concerned about the senate elections,the majority of which took place in red states (19 of 33), in an election cycle that is historically unkind to the party that holds the white house. I’m a little annoyed some races weren’t more competitive (Wendy Davis who won’t crack 40% for the Texas governorship for example), but I think the votes on individuals went more or less as expected.
Where it gets really interesting is the ballot measures. I think the ballot measures are a better measurement of where the country is at because people are voting strictly on policy, not on the smiling face of a smooth talker (read: liar), and not simply pulling the lever or checking the box that has a D or an R next to it. Last night American voters decided that liberal policy is actually pretty sweet.
- Massachusetts voters capped the tax on gasoline.
- New York voters took a step against gerrymandering allowing their congressional lines to be redrawn every ten years.
- North Dakota and Colorado voters took a stand against abortion restrictions which came in the form of proposed “personhood” amendments to their states’ constitutions.
- Arkansas, Nebraska, and Alaska voters all increased their state’s minimum wage.
- Montana voters denied a voter suppression effort when they voted down registration restrictions.
- Washington voters passed an initiative that mandates background checks on all gun sales and transfers.
- Oregon, Alaska, and DC voters all legalized recreational Marijuana use.
- California voters reformed their justice system in changing sentencing for several nonviolent crimes to misdemeanors instead of felonies.
All said liberal ballot initiatives were 10-4-2 overall and 4-2-0 in Red states with Connecticut still counting votes on removing restrictions on absentee and early voting (currently failing) and Oregon still counting votes on labeling genetically modified foods (currently passing).
Conservative ballot initiatives? They were 4-5 overall, going 4-1 in red states, but that includes the bizarro initiative from Alabama that “prohibits the state from adopting foreign laws” (seriously), and initiatives in Tennessee (allow state legislature to rule on abortion), and Alabama (subject firearms laws to strict judicial scrutiny) that are tied to the political affiliations or leanings of whoever holds those offices.
There seems to be a disconnect in what voters want in a candidate and what policy they want implemented. Those minimum wage increases? They were opposed by all of the Republican Senators who won those states with Ben Sasse (NE) refusing to discuss it at any length and Tom Cotton (AR) and Dan Sullivan (AK, not a confirmed winner yet) all changing their position to support once the increases were shown to be massively ahead in the polls (the smallest winner was Nebraska at +18.4%) and threatened to sink their campaigns. Likewise in the Governor’s races Asa Hutchinson (AR) opposed a minimum wage hike until it was shown to be ahead in the polls and her position hurt her campaign and Pete Ricketts (NE) opposed it outright with no flip-flop. Both Alaska’s Governor candidates Sean Parnell (R) and Bill Walker (Ind., currently ahead but not confirmed) supported Alaska’s proposed minimum wage increase. I could not find evidence of flip-flopping.
In short, liberal politicians lost, but liberal policies won, which doesn’t bode well in the long term for the Republican Party, no matter how large their short term gains may have been.