The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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