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“No Wave, No Mandate”: Be Extremely Skeptical Of Republican Claims Of Any Mandate

With Republicans increasingly likely to take the Senate, we can be sure of one thing: Whether their victory is narrow or enormous, Republicans will claim a sweeping mandate to enact a radical shift in policy on pretty much any issue that they care about. The American people have spoken, they’ll say. This was a wave that swept us into power and washed away Barack Obama’s right to pursue his agenda.

We should be extremely skeptical of that claim, for a number of reasons.

The first is that it isn’t really looking like much of a wave. Every election analyst projects that Republicans will pick up a few seats in the House — maybe five, maybe ten — but nothing like the 63 seats they gained in 2010 or the 54 they netted in 1994. If they manage to take the Senate, it will be because most of the incredibly close races this year tipped their way in the end. Which would undoubtedly be a victory, but it would be hard to argue that the GOP squeaking out wins in deep-red states in the South and adding a couple in swing states like Iowa or Colorado represents some huge shift in public sentiment.

New polling data suggests that even if Republicans do take the Senate, we’re hardly looking at a “GOP wave.” The final pre-election poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal was released today, and it shows the two parties nearly deadlocked (46-45 in Republicans’ favor) in the generic ballot test among likely voters. Democratic voters’ interest in the campaign has risen to match Republicans’, and approval of the GOP as a party remains abysmal. There’s also evidence to suggest that turnout will be low.

Of course, that poll could be inaccurate on any given question. But a perfectly plausible outcome would be that Republicans end up with a Senate majority of 51, 52, or 53 seats, but the election as a whole looks not like a wave but like a mixed victory amid conditions that already favored them.

And yet, if Republicans are victorious, they’ll repeat over and over that quote from Barack Obama when he said his administration’s policies were on the ballot. They’ll say the country has repudiated his administration and its agenda, and therefore he should agree to the things they want to do instead. They’ll say they were given a mandate by the American people.

Which, when you think about it, is absurd. Given how many close elections there are this year, it would be odd to say that if Bruce Braley and Mark Udall had managed to get slightly more of their voters to the polls, then that would have meant America chose one course, while if those two candidates’ turnout operations couldn’t quite get them over the finish line, then America made a different choice.

The outcome in Congress is likely to reflect this. Republicans are now claiming they will “pass a lot of legislation” once they control both chambers, but in reality, we’re likely to see more gridlock, dysfunction, and stalemate. Congressional Republicans will find themselves stymied by other institutional procedures — the filibuster and the presidential veto. And they’ll probably complain that the voters’ will is being thwarted.

But they won’t have much of a case to make. Getting the ability to repeal the Affordable Care Act, slash environmental regulations, cut corporate taxes, and enact the rest of the GOP agenda is going to take more than prevailing in a close Congressional election. It will take winning the White House, something they seem to have all but forgotten how to do.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect; The Plum Line, The Washington Post, November 3, 2014

November 4, 2014 - Posted by | Congress, Midterm Elections, Republicans | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. In 2016, GOP primary voters will be forced to choose among five major candidates to select the lesser evil. Those five include: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Mitt Romney. Ted Cruz is definitely the greater evil. Chris Christie is a class of one who does not belong in either category. Perhaps we should put him to one side in a class of one that we could label “evil.”

    That leaves three. Rand Paul will never be nominated by the GOP because he has a rational defense policy. Republicans believe that the primary and perhaps only purpose of the Federal government is spending vast sums on defense. They will NEVER nominate Rand Paul. That reduces the lesser evil field to two, Mitt and Jeb. Neither one can defeat a Democratic nominee in 2016. Jeb might be able to win if the Democratic nominee died suddenly during the campaign. Mitt could not.


    Comment by walthe310 | November 4, 2014 | Reply

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