Four Lessons from the 2014 Election


Many pundits and campaign consultants are no doubt analyzing the election results across the country to try to decipher what lessons the Republican wave holds for candidates planning to run in 2016. But there are four easily seen lessons that both of the major political parties should take to heart:

First, the manipulation of election rules and political trickery didn’t work. In Kansas, for example, the Democratic Party forced its U.S. Senate nominee to withdraw and refused to comply with a state law that required the party to name a replacement candidate for the ballot. Democrats were hoping that their voters would consolidate behind faux-independent candidate Greg Orman, a contributor to Barack Obama and the DSCC who, according to Vice President Joe Biden, would have caucused with Democrats if he had won. That political trickery failed -- Republican incumbent Pat Roberts cruised to an easy victory with 53% of the vote to Orman’s 42%.

In Illinois, the Democratic legislature put into effect a new law that implemented same-day registration and extended the early voting period (with no ID requirement for early voting) but only for this election in an effort to reelect the incumbent Democratic governor, Pat Quinn. Yet Quinn was beaten by Bruce Rauner (R) in a 51% to 46% race. In Colorado, Democrats implemented new, fraud-prone rules that mailed ballots to every registered voter, even voters listed as “inactive” because they have moved or may otherwise have become ineligible to vote. Cory Gardner (R) still beat Sen. Mark Udall (D) by five points.

Second, race baiting and attempts to terrify black voters didn’t work. In North Carolina, an anonymous flyer was distributed in Fayetteville with a picture of a lynching from the 1920s and a message telling voters that if incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan didn’t win, Obama’s impeachment would begin. The head of the local chapter of the NAACP, Jimmy Buxton, saw nothing wrong with the flyer and didn’t think it was racist. Yet Thom Tillis (R) still beat Hagan.

In Georgia, the state Democratic Party sent out flyers showing black children holding signs saying “Don’t shoot” and “If you want to prevent another Ferguson…vote.” Michael Smith, the communications director for the Georgia Democratic Party, was completely unapologetic for invoking scenes of racist violence. But the flyer didn’t prevent David Perdue from winning the open U.S. Senate seat without a runoff or Gov. Nathan Deal from being reelected, rolling over a challenge from Jason Carter, grandson of President Jimmy Carter.