The Elephants’ Charge: Voters Nationwide Stampede to GOP

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 10.34.09 PMThe February 2014 cover story of the Claremont Independent, “2014: Year of the Elephant,” boldly asserted that Republicans would win big in the midterm elections. The article was met with widespread contempt across the 5Cs. Multiple copies of the issue were visibly ripped apart on the Scripps campus. A columnist for The Student Life publicly ridiculed the “large elephant on the cover.” The backlash was so severe that former CI Editor-in-Chief Brad Richardson even issued an editorial response titled “In Defense of the Independent.”

As it turns out, Republicans have obtained an historic majority in the House of Representatives, will likely pick up nine seats in the Senate, and have even managed to achieve a net gain in governorships by winning in the solidly blue states of Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland. It would be tempting to sit back, write an article telling the 5Cs “we told you so,” and bask in the glory of these midterm results; however, it is perhaps more constructive to reflect on how the Republicans won as opposed to just how many seats they won.

Republican Governor-elect Greg Abbott (TX)
Republican Governor-elect Greg Abbott (TX)

One of the most significant takeaways from the 2014 midterm elections is the fact that voters realized Democrats’ accusation that Republicans are waging a “War on Women” is simply a political tactic, divorced from reality. In the Colorado Senate race, incumbent Democrat Mark Udall made women’s issues the crux of his campaign (so much so he was given the nickname “Mark Uterus”), yet he still lost to conservative Republican Cory Gardner. Feminist icon Wendy Davis lost the Texas gubernatorial election to Greg Abbott by over 20 points, even losing the women’s vote by a considerable margin.

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Republican Senator-elect Joni Ernst (IA)

The number of Republican women elected to office in 2014 is even more indicative of how the “War on Women” is a farce. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia will become the first female senators from their respective states. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, and Susana Martinez of New Mexico all won their gubernatorial re-election bids and ensured that their husbands will remain the First Gentleman of their respective states.

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Republican Senator Tim Scott (SC)
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Republican Congresswoman-elect Mia Love (UT)

The 2014 midterms also dismantled the notion that the Republican Party electorate won’t vote for minority candidates. Tim Scott of South Carolina (where the Civil War began) became the first African-American to be elected to the Senate in the South since the Reconstruction Era. Likewise, Will Hurd of Texas defeated a Democratic incumbent to become the first black U.S. Representative from the state since Reconstruction. Most notably, Mia Love of Utah will become the first black female Republican in Congress.

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Republican Governor Brian Sandoval (NV)

Republicans are also demonstrating considerable success in their outreach to the Hispanic community. Governor Brian Sandoval won re-election in the swing state of Nevada by an astounding 46 points and is considered a potential candidate in the 2016 senate election against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Republican Governor Susana Martinez (NM)
Republican Governor Susana Martinez (NM)

After becoming the first Hispanic female governor in 2011, Susana Martinez trounced her Democratic opponent by 14 points. While many Democratic operatives salivate at the prospect of Texas becoming a blue state (thus dealing Republicans a huge blow in the Electoral College), Republican senator John Cornyn won re-election with 48 percent of the Hispanic vote (compared to 47 percent for his opponent) according to the Pew Research Center.

With its enormous gains in both the House and Senate, the GOP has undoubtedly asserted itself in a forceful way on the national scene. Yet, what is perhaps even more indicative of a nationwide Republican revolution is the GOP’s dominance at the state level. Republicans now control 31 out of 50 governorships and 69 out of 99 state legislative bodies (including complete control of 29 state legislatures). This means that the Republican Party will be setting the legislative agenda at both the state and federal levels.

This unquestionably dominant GOP performance alludes to a more poignant, harrowing reality for Democrats: the strategy of class warfare and race/gender-based division is incompatible with the 21st century. No longer can Democrats use scare tactics and divide the electorate into groups of the “oppressed” (women, minorities, the poor, gays) and the “oppressors” (men, white people, the rich, Christians). This strategy didn’t work for Mark Udall, and it failed miserably for Wendy Davis.

According to exit polls, 70 percent of Americans indicated that the economy and healthcare were their primary voting issues. People simply don’t have time to worry about fictitious oppression narratives when they are trying to find a job or have lost their health insurance. In the hyper-insulated, overwhelmingly liberal 5C environment, it is easy to lose track of these mainstream issues that are foremost in the minds of the majority of Americans.

We realize that most students at the 5Cs will probably scoff at the aforementioned results and disregard the underlying trends. Instead, they will likely attribute the GOP victory to the evil Koch brothers using dark money to corrupt politicians and buy the election (they will want you to ignore the political spending of liberal billionaires George Soros and Tom Steyer). They will also complain of angry voter sentiment held by old white people who flocked to the polls out of a personal hatred for Obama (once again, wanting you to ignore the GOP’s performance among women and minorities).

The Claremont Independent highlighted in its Oct. 27 article, entitled “Who’s the Fairest of Them All,” that 71 percent of CMC, 92 percent of Pomona, and 96 percent of Pitzer students prefer the Democratic Party. The Golden Antlers was quick to point out that the Claremont Independent was the “last to see elephant in the room, college students are mostly liberal.” However, we at the CI like to think that our February cover story shows we were in fact the first at the 5Cs to see the real elephant in the room: the GOP is stampeding across the nation.

Elephant Image Source: Earth Touch/Flickr
Politicians’ photos taken from their respective Facebook profiles

5 thoughts on “The Elephants’ Charge: Voters Nationwide Stampede to GOP”

  1. Like children who believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy let them hang on to their liberal fables a wee bit longer. Soon enough they will be in the real world where most liberals eventually grow up and become conservative.

  2. This article is ridiculous.

    The strongest explanations for this year’s election outcome (like almost all election outcomes) are structural.
    1) The President’s party almost always loses seats in midterms, usually many of them
    2) The Democrats had an unusually high number of senate seats to defend this year, and they were mostly in unusually unfavorable locations.
    3) Midterm voter turnout in 2014 was the lowest and least representative of the nation demographically since World War Two. When just 36% of the public actually votes, you can get surprising results.
    4) Voters tend to hold the president’s party accountable for unfavorable national trends even when the President’s party doesn’t control congress (for example, the 2008 congressional elections, when the GOP got walloped). That was what made the GOP strategy of denying Obama any legislative victories by refusing to compromise and grinding government to a halt since 2010 so effective. When you can paralyze the government and know the President is going to get blamed for it, it’s politically savvy to paralyze the government, which the GOP has done.
    5) Post Citizens United, the vast majority (more than 70%+, despite Steyer and Soros) of independent spending on election campaigns goes to support Republicans. This appears to have tipped the balance in more than a few close races-the Massachusetts governor’s race being a good example.
    6) The way house district boundaries are drawn and the natural concentration of Democrats in urban areas guarantees GOP control of the House until redistricting in 2020.

    This election cycle doesn’t really show the nation is “stampeding” towards the GOP or embracing its core message. It just shows that it’s tough for any political party to overcome the structural forces in American politics. I encourage the author to look past the 24-hour news cycle and more towards political science when trying to explain election results.

  3. I’d add that by no means does my comment above suggest the GOP isn’t a force to be reckoned with, now and in the future. If anything, I think that going forward the Democratic party actually faces much more of an uphill battle than it realizes. I just think that an article purporting to explain election results shouldn’t just be a laundry-list of GOP talking points (or counterpoints to Democratic talking points). The Claremont Independent has done some great reporting at times, but this is really more of an opinion piece.

  4. Sure, it may be tagged under opinion, but the article presents itself as a journalistic explanation of why the GOP picked up so many seats. And the explanation it provides isn’t really accurate. That’s why it’s a silly article. It was just as silly when in 2008, many liberal writers erroneously suggested that Obama defeated McCain in a landslide because we were experiencing a liberal realignment of American politics, rather than because of public dissatisfaction with the Bush economy and years of war. The point being, explaining election results through a partisan lens is generally a bad idea.

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