Reviewing election results is like America’s other favorite pastime, sports, and on the morning after we all like to believe that our opinion is important. Well, this election is no different, the importance of looking at the results is to see if there are important factors that sound any alarms for we citizens of the United States.
For Democrats we may have had some unrealistic expectations. Those unrealistic expectations were skewered by polling that was tilted towards Democratic candidates to the tune of 3.4%. History and a few facts also should have been a reality check on Democratic Party expectations. Historically the party that loses the Presidency gains seats in the off-year election. President Obama did not fare well in the states that were up for grabs in the race to see who controlled the Senate. He only received a little over 46% of the vote in the so-called toss-up states. That fact should have given the Democratic Party a wake up call. Before a single vote was cast, we all knew or should have known that West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana were already states that were going to be Republican pick-ups.
As a Democratic Party you should have surmised and they probably knew this, that with three sure pick-ups for Republicans they would have to be extremely lucky to keep control of the Senate if you looked at the remaining contests honestly. These contests took place primarily in the Southern states, where elected democrats are about as numerous as dinosaurs. What were these states? You had Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana and Georgia. The only way we were fooled into thinking that the Senate would not change hands was because the media needs competitive races to make their broadcast watchable. If you include the state of Alaska into the mix, a state that is conservative, you now have the 8 state victories for the Republicans. I know Louisiana will have its run-off election for the Senate and two house races but do any of you foresee any positive outcome for Democrats? Of course not!
The surprises on election night actually occurred in a few governor races, that the Democratic Party lost which could be attributed to bad candidates and a lack of a message to the voters.
The alarm signal for all Americans was the low voter turnout. The estimated turnout showed that only 36.6% of the eligible voters voted. This contrast with 40.9 % in the last off-year election and 58% in the presidential election of 2012. The poor turnout was the worst based upon a per person basis since 1942. If you recall, 1942 just happened to have a few men fighting a war in a few foreign countries.
My fellow citizens this number is disgraceful but understandable. Voters have become cynical, apathetic, discouraged and frustrated. Cynical in that government was shutdown and even when it is open for business nothing gets done. The logical reaction to that is to stay home because you figure that your vote means nothing. There were 4 states that had a turnout of below 30%, those states are: Oklahoma, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas of all places.
In my state of California 34.8% of the voters showed up and in my neighboring states of Nevada and Arizona you had an astounding low figure of 34.4% for Arizona and 31.8% in Nevada.
Besides cynicism you have the very real fact that very few politicians speak to the issue that sends fear into the hearts of average Americans and that is the fact that median income continues to go down. The economic gains that have been made during the years of the recovery since the Great Recession have gone to the top 1% of the public.
Members of Congress tend to be members of the Millionaires Club. It is hard to find any consistent effort to find solutions for the declining incomes of most Americans.
Democrats lacked a consistent message just like they did in 2010, in fact one could argue that the Democratic Party had no message at all. Republicans nothing other than an anti-Obama campaign and we wonder why voters stay home. When you have this kind of situation, it is the hard-core voters of each political party that decide the outcome. Democracy suffers when only the true believers or ideologues vote. Sitting home only helps that status quo continue.
So my fellow Americans don’t blame me for what we are about to get the next two years in Washington. I voted! Did you and if not why didn’t you vote?