What does it all mean? That is going to be the question that all of the political pundits are going to be attempting to answer after the midterm elections on Tuesday. While midterm elections generally favor the political party out of power, this election has some interesting nuances. While the Republicans appear poised to gain control of the House of Representatives, the Democrats seem as though they may be able to keep control of the Senate.
The mainstream media’s narrative surrounding the midterm elections has been that the electorate is angry. The Republican Party’s narrative for the midterm election is that President Obama and the Congressional Democrats are out of touch. The Democratic Party’s narrative is that they prevented the recession from deepening. There may be some validity to these narratives, but they hardly describe the entirety of the election. While Tuesday night commentators from both sides will be spinning their own versions of what the midterm elections mean. But we will not really know what the midterm election actually mean until well after the concession phone calls and the victory speeches.
The Republican Party will no longer be the opposition party, and will no share the responsibility of governing with the Democrats. However, a Congress fractured along ideological lines is going to make it very difficult to govern. The Senate which experienced and unprecedented level of obstructionism from the Republicans during the last Congress will in all likelihood be able to accomplish little legislatively. Even if the Democrats retain their majority, the Republicans will have the votes to prevent anything from passing. Secret holds will likely remain on many of President Obama’s nominees.
In the House the Republicans will have the majority, but it remains unclear if a Republican Speaker of the House will be able to control the Republican caucus. The freshman crop of Republican lawmakers will not be made up of moderate Republicans as the group of Republicans that we swept into office during the 1994 midterm elections. There will be a significant portion of Republican lawmakers that where elected with the backing of the Tea Party, and it is unlikely that they will be willing to negotiate are reach bipartisan deals. The Democrats in the House will also be much more ideologically liberal as many of the moderate Democrats that allowed the Democrats to achieve majorities in 2006 and 2008 will likely be defeated in the midterms.
So what does it all mean? The bigger the victory for Republicans, the better it is for the Democrats. Why? Because over the next two year the Congressional Republicans will remind the American public why they voted them out of office in the first place.