This past Election Day, the Republicans saw a sweeping victory and took back control of the Senate for the first time in eight years. The Republicans won crucial seats in states such as Montana, South Dakota, Iowa and Colorado. Barack Obama has been elected twice yet the Democratic Party has gotten trounced in the two midterm elections during his presidency. This leads to the question; how was the Republican Party able to do so well in the midterm? The concerns of the voters could have played a large role in the party’s success. According to various exit polls, this past election voters were most concerned with terrorism, health care and the economy. All of these issues most likely gave the G.O.P. an edge over the Democratic Party. There were, however, three factors that were the main contributors to the G.O.P.’s ability to win over the voters.
The first of these factors was voter turnout. Because it was a midterm election, far less voters came out to vote than in the presidential race two years ago. This made it likely that supporters of the President turned out in disproportionately smaller numbers than Republican Party supporters. Take older voters for instance. Voters 45 and older made up fifty-four percent of voters in 2012, but made up a colossal sixty-seven percent last Tuesday.
Another factor that contributed immensely to the Republican Party’s success was the current public disapproval of President Obama. In fall of 2013, the G.O.P. was blamed heavily for the government shutdown, however, public disapproval switched to the Democratic Party after Obama’s failure to rollout the Affordable Care Act. While the program was eventually repaired, the political damage was lasting. Republican candidates tied their opponents to Obama and his policies. They were ultimately successful in this and were able to turn voters’ attention toward Obama and away from the G.O.P.’s lack of a plan for the country.
The third factor that helped out the Republican Party was their nominations of less extremist candidates. In the past, the G.O.P. has been hindered by the failures of their far-right candidates. In this election, however, it was clear that the Republicans were attempting to smooth off their rough edges. For example, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker ran an ad backing equal pay for women after he previously signed a bill that repealed a state law requiring equal pay. A host of Republican candidates even decided that they support an increase in the minimum wage. By moving to the center, the Republican Party was able to avoid the Democrats painting them all as extremists.
The sweeping victory by the G.O.P. certainly depicts the feelings of the American people. However, it is not likely that change is soon to come. Obama and the Democrats will not be able to pass any initiatives of their own, yet the Democrats will still be able to block Republican initiatives in the Senate with forty votes. It appears as though another long two years of gridlock is in store for the U.S. Congress.