Rather than write a string of words to describe what has happened to Barack Obama’s Democratic Party tonight, I’ll show you a short movie. It’s from a horror film that is nowhere near as terrifying as what the Democrats have experienced tonight.
To get the obvious results out of the way, Wendy Davis not only did not make a strong showing in her race for Texas governor, she bombed. Greg Abbott defeated her literally everywhere, in the cities and in the countryside, among men and among women (52-47, by the way), even among Hispanic men. It was embarrassing, for her and for Battleground Texas.
Wendy Davis fared poorer than the Democratic nominee did four years ago, even though she had the vaunted Battleground Texas operation backing her. Embarrassing.
Not only did Wendy Davis lose, all of the statewide Democrats lost, and all by huge margins. Not a single Texas Democrat got above 40%. And then, Davis’ state Senate seat went to Republican Konni Burton. Go ahead and laugh, if you’re not a Wendy Davis fan.
The Republicans easily picked up the six U.S. Senate seats that they needed to take control. The GOP candidates picked up West Virginia, Iowa, Colorado, Arkansas, South Dakota, Montana and North Carolina. They needed six; that’s seven. And we don’t know what will happen yet in Louisiana and Alaska. The Republicans could take both. If they do, that exceeds even the most optimistic projections. I had it at +7 for weeks. They beat the spread.
The misery for Democrats by no means ends in the Senate. The Republicans increased their margin in the U.S. House by about 10 seats.
And they wrested three governorships away from Democrats in deep blue states. Republican Bruce Rauner defeated incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn in Illinois, 50-46. Martha Coakley turned in another dismal performance in Massachusetts, losing to Republican Charlie Baker. And in probably the most shocking result of the night, Maryland elected just its second Republican governor since the 1970s. Larry Hogan defeated Gov. Martin O’Malley’s chosen successor, easily, 52-46.
It goes without saying that Illinois, Massachusetts and Maryland are not generally considered to be battleground states. But now they are. The Republicans also held serve in Maine. Republicans came close to winning Senate seats in New Hampshire and Virginia.
It’s somewhat overwhelming to take in the full scope of the Democrats’ defeat. The party of a president in his sixth year traditionally loses some, but not like this. Obama has overseen the dismantling of his party at the state level over the past six years, as Republicans took power in unlikely places like Wisconsin. But Maryland? A good chunk of that state is Washington’s bedroom community. It’s where federal government workers and Beltway bandits live and live well. That state elected Rep. Bob Ehrlich governor a few years back, and the state Democrats in the assembly promptly chewed him up and spat him out. It was terrible treatment of a good and honest man. They might be chastened when they survey the wreckage that is now spread from one state Democrat headquarters to another across the entire country. It’s ghastly. Maryland’s departing governor, former Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, is surely one of the night’s biggest losers. How can a man who hails from a small state that his successor lost pretend to be a viable nominee for president now?
Don’t get me wrong, he’ll pretend away. He’ll smile that boyish smile and play in his little band. But tonight hurt him, badly. It hurt Hillary Clinton too. It hurt every potential Democrat nominee for president in 2016. What do they run on? Hillary has Benghazi, O’Malley has failing to fix Baltimore’s rampant crime, Elizabeth Warren has being an academic who’s a little too similar to Barack Obama, and Joe Biden has being Joe Biden.
Tonight helped Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin. The Democrats, Big Labor, the teachers’ unions…they have thrown everything they possibly can at Walker three times, and three times he has beaten them. He now has a real reform record and a record of smoking the Democrats in what was a blue state. That’s a formidable record. Other Republicans will have to find ways to match that. They have two years.
The Democrats thought they would at least pick up the Kansas governorship. Nope. Brownback was re-elected.
Once you peel back a page and look at some specifics things look even worse for Democrats: Republicans have gotten younger, with several Gen Xers like Cory Gardner (R-CO) joining Texan Ted Cruz, alongside a more racially and gender diverse party. Sen. Tim Scott goes back to the Senate to represent South Carolina as a conservative black Republican. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R) will be West Virginia’s first female senator. She’ll be joined by Joni Ernst, the Red Oak, IA native who becomes Iowa’s first female senator. Govs. Nikki Haley and Susana Martinez won re-election in South Carolina and New Mexico, respectively. The Republicans have two minority women at the helm in key states now and a couple of new women in the Senate. If all of that doesn’t kill off the Democrats’ ridiculous “war on women,” then probably nothing will.
The House and Senate are sure to pass Keystone Pipeline legislation right out of the chute. Sen. Cruz is already talking about how to dismantle Obamacare without requiring Obama’s signature. A whole lot of change is gonna come, now that Harry Reid no longer has his bony fingers around the Senate’s throat.
The word “epic” gets overused, but the Republicans’ victories and the corresponding Democrat defeats do fit the term. What happened was not only a wave, it was historic, the kind of wave that leaves rings in the tree growth to let future archaeologists know that it existed.
As a Reagan conservative, the result has somewhat restored my old faith that Americans really don’t care for socialism and statism. That is what the Obama Democrats have offered, loudly and proudly, for six years. And it is what Americans all across the states have loudly rejected. They also voted in favor of basic competence in government, something that has been in very short supply for six years. This result was a mass rejection of a president and his party the likes of which we haven’t seen in some time.
Not all is rosy, of course. President Obama still has two years to work mischief, and he surely will do that. He won’t have Harry Reid to be his human shield in the Senate anymore, but he’ll figure out something. He’s a community organizer. They cannot and do not thrive in peaceful times. They need division to get whatever they want, and they know how to create division and exploit it. It’s what they do. Obama wants confrontation. He wants to hack the Constitution. His threat to grant sweeping amnesty says as much. He will get his confrontations. Will the Republicans be wise and shrewd when those conflicts come?
And lest we forget, there are still the little matters of Russia, ISIS, Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the dangerous border, the economy and other actual threats and problems to deal with. The Democrats chose to ignore most of that to wage their “war on women.” The Republicans won’t have that luxury, and we can be sure that the media will hold Republicans to standards of effectiveness that the Democrats never get held to. That’s life with a biased, dishonest media.
So while the Republicans have a new mandate to govern in the states and to rein Obama in in Washington, they have a fight on their hands too. It’s going to be an interesting two years.