Tuesday night may have represented a defeat for America’s more conservative political party at the federal level, but the American people did not repudiate conservative ideals.
Although Republicans lost seats in the United States Senate and House, they did relatively well in state legislative races. Indeed, “Even as Midwesterners voted to reelect Obama,” wrote James Sherk yesterday in the National Review,
they also voted against the union-backed candidates. Michigan voters rejected making collective-bargaining powers a “right” by a 58–42 margin. Michigan Republicans also held onto their majorities in the legislature. In Wisconsin, Republicans aligned with Governor Walker’s agenda retook the state senate. Republicans expanded their margins in Indiana to better than two-thirds of the legislature. Ohio Republicans also expanded their legislative majority.
They did suffer some losses, losing, for example, the House in Colorado and New Hampshire and losing both chambers in Maine as well as Minnesota, but, in addition to Wisconsin, Republicans flipped the Senate in Alaska and, for the first time since Reconstruction, won both chambers of the Arkansas legislature.
Mitt Romney may have lost Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, but Republicans control the legislature (both houses) and hold the governor’s chair in all five states.
In November 2008, when the country was floundering in the worst recession since the Depression, Election Day surveys of voters found that 51 percent of them wanted government to do more to intervene while 43 percent said it was doing too many things better left to businesses. Now, after four years of government activism, those numbers have flipped.
This corresponds with other surveys showing that Americans prefer a smaller government with fewer services to larger government with more services.
And maybe Republicans held onto the majority in so many state legislatures because local candidates could better articulate that small government message.