We can be thankful that the 2014 election is behind us. Republicans are dancing for joy, and Democrats are in a state of doom and gloom. Both parties need to shake off their respective delirium and shock and pay attention to what actually happened on Election Day. The winning party likes to think that it got a mandate from the voters, but that isn’t the case this year or, generally, in any year.
The voters don’t like either party because of years of gridlock and bitter partisanship. The 2014 campaign was nasty and vitriolic. It’s estimated that more than 80 percent of the commercials were negative. There’s no doubt that negative campaigns work, but when this year’s battle was over, the Republican brand wasn’t any better than the Democratic label.
The winners can beat their chests, but there are many factors that figured in the final results. This year is known in politics as an off year. Historically, Republicans do better in off years. Their supporters turn out in big numbers, and Democratic Party backers seem to go to sleep until the next presidential election. On top of that, the Republicans beat the Democrats in the ground game.
Once upon a time, the Democratic Party could tell you where every voter lived, their family history and a lot of their personal financial information — even their musical tastes. This year, armed with the same information, the Republicans upgraded their technology to get their supporters to the polls.
They had the better message, even if it was the wrong one. Running a campaign on negative issues and character attacks is very effective, and produces a lot of victories. Luckily for the Republicans, they had a demon in President Obama, and they utilized it to the fullest.