Three Takeaways From The 2014 Midterms

Three Takeaways From The 2014 Midterms

Republicans enjoyed a big night last night by taking the Senate and expanding their House majority. Here are the three key takeaways from last night’s wave election:


Results Conservatism will be The Next Big Thing

The single biggest story from last night is the voter’s rejection of not just the Washington status quo but of the Obama administration and Democrats. But this rejection of the left does not mean they have fully embraced the right. Republicans have a chance to earn and win a mandate by how they respond. After all, real change happens between elections.

That’s why Republicans should focus on Results Conservatism – a way of governing and thinking that emphasizes outcomes and results that matter in people’s lives. Conservatives have a massive “results” and outcome advantage in the battle of ideas and policy. On every front – wage growth, housing, education, the war on poverty, foreign policy, etc. – conservatives have a big results advantage. Our ideas work; theirs don’t.

Having a “Results Conservatism” mindset will also help unify the right’s factions, which are more united than people realize, but also susceptible to nihilistic infighting. A results mindset will help Republicans rally around a tactically smart agenda that will make incremental gains while pursuing big reform projects like tax reform and healthcare reform.


Voters want solutions and sunny but sober optimism

The conventional wisdom says Republicans won by associating their Democratic opponents with a president who is deeply unpopular and viewed as detached and incompetent. There is much truth in this reading but it is too simplistic. Candidates who also said, “Things aren’t very good right now but I have a plan to make them better” also did extremely well.

Consider Ed Gillespie in Virgina. Gillespie ran on a policy-heavy platform that featured a detailed ObamaCare replacement plan not unlike the leading Senate plan offered by Coburn, Burr and Hatch. No one gave Gillespie a chance yet he nearly pulled off the upset of the evening. Candidates like Joni Ernst in Iowa, Cory Gardner in Colorado, Ben Sasse in Nebraska and many others also showed that voters will reward candidates who offer real solutions in a winsome manner.

One word of caution on this front: even though Pat Roberts won by a wider-than-expected margin in Kansas the fact that independent Greg Orman made it a race should be a wake-up call. Orman’s campaign was based on “solving problems.” The fact that he did so well without offering actual solutions shows the extent to which voters are hungry – and even desperate – to hear candidates talk about solutions and results.


Voters are tired of the Left’s politics of division and demagoguery

For Democrats, this was their “more cowbell” election. In 2014, soon-to-be-former Senate Majority Harry Reid played the role of Christopher Walken in this classic SNL sketch that mocked the dissonant, disconnected and distracting performer.

Reid pushed Democrats into embracing an unholy trinity of themes and memes that irritated and bored voters. Themes like the War on Women (see here and here), the Party of No and the Koch Conspiracy were viewed for what they were – transparently political and self-serving “messages” concocted by consultants that had no connection to people’s lives. Candidates like Gardner and Ernst in particular did a masterful job of exposing the left’s petty partisanship.

Thanks to Reid’s insistence on more cowbell, 2014 will be remembered as the year Colorado’s Mark Udall became “Mark Uterus.”