In a clean sweep the Republican Party took over the Senate, increased its majority in the House, and prevailed in tight governor races last night in the 2014 elections.
The prospects were never great for the Democrats who were competing in many cases in GOP leaning states but Republicans even won in traditionally blue states taking the governorships in Massachusetts, Illinois, and Maryland.
Part of the reason for the Democrats getting so thoroughly stomped was undoubtedly an unpopular Democratic president sitting in the White House, though the strategy of Democrats trying to distance themselves from President Barack Obama obviously did not work. Republican candidates throughout the country made Obama the central issue in their campaigns and rode public dissatisfaction with the president and the economy all the way to victory.
It is also worth noting who voted and didn’t vote. The 2014 electorate was older, whiter, and richer than the 2012 (and likely 2016) electorate according to the exit polls. That is not atypical for midterm elections though Democrats had thought that recent demographic trends such as an increasing Hispanic population might have taken the edge off the demographic divide – not so.
Additionally problematic for Democrats, this was the first election after the US Supreme Court dumped parts of the Voting Rights Act. Not surprisingly, Texas – ground zero for voter suppression – saw problems with many minority and poor residents unable to vote. The voter ID laws passed in many conservative states made it harder for traditionally Democratic constituencies to participate in the election – which of course was the point of the law as voter fraud is not a real problem.
Now Congress will be firmly in Republican control and, in the best case scenario, little will get done in the next two years. In the worst case scenario, President Obama will begin dealing away key progressive programs to go legacy shopping and remain relevant. Either way, don’t expect much progress in the next couple of years.