The Nov. 2 midterm acted as a referendum to President Barack Obama and his party. Republicans appropriated control of not only the House, but state governorships, too.
“We’ve come to take our government back,” said Rand Paul, Kentucky’s GOP senatorial winner. “They say that the U.S. Senate is the world’s most deliberative body. I’m going to ask them to deliberate on this: The American people are unhappy with what’s going on in Washington.”
Though Paul’s opponents accuse him of extreme views, he wasn’t exaggerating Americans’ general dissatisfaction with the current government and more specifically, the president. According to national exit polls, 54 percent of voters were unhappy with Obama’s performance thus far.
On Election Day, democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other party leaders made last-ditch pleas on television, urging people to get out and vote. The Democratic Party’s future seemed bleak. However, despite losing control of the House, democrats maintained control in the Senate. But the GOP greatly increased its influence in it.
Democratic candidates like Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and John Spratt of South Carolina used to be impregnable. But little-known GOP members replaced these once-undefeatable men. In the Senate alone, Republicans seized six democrat seats, including Obama’s former one.
Democrats were not at a complete loss, though. They won key senatorial elections in Nevada, California, Delaware, Connecticut and West Virginia. The GOP’s main senatorial victories consisted in Paul winning Kentucky and Marco Rubio winning Florida. Both men are members of the Tea Party movement, which is supported by forty percent of voters, according to national exit polls.
Candidates campaigns, primarily funded by political action committees and individual donations, were the most expensive in U.S. history. The widely used GOP tactic of instilling anger and fear in the hearts of Americans towards “big government” seemed to work in its favor. The democrats’ efforts seemed to fail. Many democrats didn’t even show up to vote. Individuals who previously voted for Obama like suburb dwellers, independents and college-educated people, tended to vote for Republican candidates this election.
According to exit polls, voters were wary of Obama’s health care agenda, as well as his party’s penchant to increase government spending. The GOP has been claiming that its primary objective is to decrease the deficit. Nonetheless, even conservatives who were polled didn’t think it feasible to cut the deficit and taxes at the same time, something GOP candidates had been suggesting.
Though Paul took Kentucky’s senatorial bid, as predicted by many political analysts, the Democratic Party did achieve a few victories in Kentucky with John Yarmuth defeating Tea Party candidate Todd Lally for the House bid and Greg Fischer defeating Republican Hal Heiner in the mayor’s race.
“My hope is that I can cooperate with Republicans,” said Obama in a radio interview Election Day. “But obviously, the kinds of compromises that will be made depends on what Capitol Hill looks like – who’s in charge.”