We have now read, reviewed and analyzed the 2014 midterm elections from every perspective, and the most consistent conclusions are that the Republicans scored a smashing victory, the Democrats suffered a humiliating defeat, the president's performance is mostly to blame, and the 2016 presidential election starts now.
Actually, the last conclusion about the 2014 election is mostly driven by the media, and everyone in the media should be ashamed to be so driven to start the 2016 campaign now even when not a single regular American wants it to. In one interview, I heard one Republican victorious governor asked four different times if he was "running for president." Apparently, "just saying NO" really is not enough.
And if the media's obsession with 2016 was based on a genuine concern about the direction and future of the country, that would be different. But we know it's really about driving ratings and trying to make news and be able to report that "we can tell you from an exclusive interview that only we have" that so and so is prepared to run in 2016. It's really part of the overall mess we have made of our national election process, particularly the primary and campaign debate process, and ALL the media, on both sides of the conservative-liberal aisles, are equally to blame.
Essentially, there are three primary reasons why Republicans enjoyed such an impressive victory on election night.
First, and the most obvious, is the low approval ratings of the president throughout the country. But I'm not focusing on all the "red state" voters and Republican voters and conservative voters who were expected to oppose the President and vote for the opposition.
No, I'm focusing on the president's low approval ratings among his own base and demonstrated support groups based on the last two national elections -- white male auto workers in Ohio and Michigan, soccer moms in the Northeast, educated suburbanites in Maryland, and even among Hispanics and African-Americans. Many in these groups went out and voted for Republicans, and most of the voters in these groups just stayed home, as witnessed by the lowest national voter turnout since the 1940's. That result is far more alarming for Democrats than all the Republican and conservative voters who were excited to go out and vote their disappointment and even anger with President Obama.
Second, for the first time in several election cycles, the mainstream Republican Party bolted from the Tea Party and nominated good, sensible mainstream candidates to oppose Democrats instead of nominating candidates who had to spend too much time denying rumors that they were "witches" or who wanted to shut down every Government facility except Minuteman Missile installations. In the past, even if voters were angry with Democrats or establishment incumbents, the Tea Party and ultimately Republican candidates offered as an alternative were simply not acceptable to most voters. This time they were.
And Third, as a party, Republicans ran less strident campaigns that did NOT feature themes and undercurrents that in more recent election cycles have outraged and angered African-Americans and particularly Hispanics, with the latter group often feeling they were being scapegoated and racially targeted as part of the Republican message on Immigration reform. The message may not have changed itself, but the Republican party refused to let their entire national campaign theme revolve around that message or, for that matter, repealing Obamacare and opposing gay rights. In fact, we have heard far more Republican attacks on the Obama Healthcare program in the few days since the election than we heard in the entire 6 to 8 month campaign leading up to the election.
All of that adds up to good smart politics, and the sum total of these factors resulted in a most impressive Republican victory.
On the state level, I would point out while Republicans did amass impressive wins in gubernatorial races in Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland, it bears noting that all of these states have actually elected Republican Governors in fairly recent election cycles even though the states themselves are considered to be fairly safe Democratic blue states.
For the Democrats, the late night comeback victory pulled off by Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper is a key victory going forward to 2016 as Colorado is a key purple state in the west, and Democrats need the on the ground organization and support that having one of their own in the governor's chair in that state will provide to help them attempt to carry that state in the next Presidential election cycle.
Finally, here's a little political secret that I probably shouldn't even share with everyone at this early stage.
In his press conference the day after the election, President Obama made reference to his plan to possibly go ahead and issue executive orders to implement comprehensive immigration reform as he envisions it, stating that he will continue to fight for what is good for the country and that the Congress can pass a bill that will supersede the executive order if they choose to do so.
That all sounds terrific. But here's what the president is counting on and what may be his last gift to Democrats for 2016.
No sooner had the president made that statement at the press conference when virtually all talk about working together and getting things done evaporated, and the newly elected Republican leadership in the Senate along with Speaker Boehner and Tea Party stalwarts like Senator Ted Cruz immediately threatened full scale political warfare and not only went after the President on immigration but also threw in repealing Obamacare with not so subtle references to impeachment proceedings that could loom on the horizon if the President doesn't behave.
The president has laid a trap that Republicans are almost sure to fall into.
If they spend the next two years focused on trying to repeal Obamacare in an emotional attack filled campaign that is sure to lose, and then re-engage and outrage once again Hispanic-Americans all over the country fighting Immigration reform and letting the rhetoric and dialogue deteriorate to the lowest level of uncivil discourse, instead of focusing on areas where the two parties could actually work together to get things done like tax reform and infrastructure needs and education, then all those voters, particularly Hispanics and African-Americans who stayed home this year after turning out in unprecedented droves in 2008 and 2012, will come flocking back out to the polls in 2016 along with the soccer moms and educated suburbanites and sweep Hillary Clinton into the White House along with Democratic candidates all down the line.
Yes, Republicans did answer their wake-up call this year. Now we will see if they really answer it and get up or just hit the snooze button and return to their slumber for another cycle.
Carl Jeffers is a Los Angeles based columnist, TV political analyst, radio commentator, and a national lecturer and business consultant. Jeffers is president of Intelli Marketing Associates. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org