Not even oceans of Silicon Valley and Wall Street funding were enough to accomplish the “blue wave” of Democratic wins that mainstream pollsters and pundits had posited as voters rejected uber-progressive state and national legislative candidate election pitches that would essentially ban private health insurance, increase taxes, open borders, strangle fossil energy production, and dismantle long-standing constitutional institutions.
Supposedly vulnerable Republican U.S. Senate incumbents Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Susan Collins of Main, Iowa’s Joni Ernst, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina successfully won out by strong margins over Democratic challengers who outspent them two or three to one.
Sen. Graham’s campaign opponent Jaime Harrison reportedly raised a staggering $57 million, a new fundraising record.
As it stands now, Republicans will hold control of the Senate, with the possibility that Democrats might even the score pending a January 5 runoff election for two Republican seats in Georgia. In the event of a split, the vice president would be a tie-breaker.
Pre-election estimates Republicans would lose as many as 20 U.S. House seats have proved to be wonderfully misguided. Instead, the GOP can now expect to gain at least seven representatives, and possibly up to a dozen. Whereas the full results likely won’t be known for weeks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may find her majority cut in half to the smallest in 20 years.
State-level races showed a similar pattern. Democrats failed to flip any state GOP legislative chambers, while Republicans expanded majorities in some statehouses.
And whereas Democrats also failed to pick up a single new chamber or governorship, Republicans flipped a governor in Montana and both legislative chambers in New Hampshire.
New GOP statehouse majorities broadly rejected progressive governance policies. Among various reforms, were some who passed right-to-work legislation (Michigan, Wisconsin), cut taxes (North Carolina, Iowa, Michigan), and expanded school choice (Ohio, Wisconsin, North Carolina).
Democrats took a particularly harsh and overdue beating in Illinois, losing four state House seats and a State Supreme Court Justice in a retention election for the first time in history.
Voters overwhelmingly rejected a progressive tax referendum that party leaders had been counting on to hold up a fiscal house of bad cards including unsustainable union pension obligations, rising property taxes, a shrinking economic base, and the entire country’s worst state credit rating.
A special problem for Democrats is that their voters have become increasingly concentrated in the cities and coasts where messaging pitched to progressive elites plays less effectively than in suburban and rural America.
Many U.S. House and Senate Democrats are finally coming around to realize this too…and they are sounding alarms.
House Majority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn, D, SC., got it right when he warned his colleagues that if “we are going to run on Medicare for All, defund the police, socialized medicine, we’re not going to win.”
Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D, Va., who appears to have narrowly fended off a challenger for her Virginia Congressional district, told fellow Democrats, “don’t say socialism ever again,” warning that if her party continues moving left that in 2022, “we will get f***ing torn apart.”
Reps. Clyburn and Spanberger read the red handwriting on the wall correctly in recognizing that a great many in 2020 America have become both weary and contemptuous of progressive partisans who push divisive “woke” identity politics, cancel-culture assaults on First and Second Amendment rights, Supreme Court packing, extended economically and socially-ravaging Covid-19 shutdowns, and promised business and family income-burdensome tax increases.
There was never a broad mandate for progressive change, and if anything, the fevered democratic and media anticipation of a “transformational” election drove more voters to turn out to stop it.
The 2020 election demonstrated that monumentally massive amounts of money spent on Democratic congressional candidates were clearly no match for historically large and energized turnouts of marathon Trump rallies. Tens of thousands of attendees who rejected those intrusive and destructive policies took days off to stand in the cold and rain for hours during a Covid-19 pandemic in fervent support of the president.
Whereas most new presidents enter office having swept allies into Congress and statehouses as the public embraces their agendas and visions for America as Obama did in 2008 and Trump did in 2016, a prospective President Biden would have no such coattails.
If there is a bright spot in all of this, it is that recognition of liabilities posed by party radicals to mid-term congressional races may discourage future unanimous lock-step obedience to leadership marching orders.
Who knows…maybe this same realization of party peril might provide Joe Biden the courage to risk upsetting the far-left Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren wing that supported him as their Trojan Horse to gallop forward as the more moderate Democratic leader he claims.
One might only hope.