Election 2014

With a Big GOP Wave, Americans Voted for More Gridlock—And They Knew What They Wanted

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Gridlock
Foter / CC BY-SA

On election night, TV talking heads watching the Republican wave/surge/tidal flow across the country earnestly looked at each other and asked if the new Republican Senate majority can work with the president and overcome the gridlock that has so turned off voters. Umm…what?

Yeah, I know Americans keep telling pollsters that they can't stand "partisan bickering" and really hate Congress for its inability to get things done. But there's a strong hint that they're regurgitating sentiments that all of those right-thinking pundits tell them that they're supposed to mouth. After all, those same Americans just handed control of the Senate and an expanded House majority to the political party that has stalled the president's appointees, challenged his policies, and attacked him at every turn.

Could it be that, kumbaya language aside, the electorate likes to see government frozen in its tracks? After all, President Obama's personal approval ratings are also in the toilet, and his signature policy—the Affordable Care Act—continues to evoke a mass gag reflex from the public and was specifically cited as a negative by almost half of voters in this election.

So, if American voters don't like Congress, and don't like the president, and don't like the major piece of legislation that was produced when Congress and the president last worked together, what evidence do we have that the public is looking for more close cooperation between the executive and legislative branches?

In fact, polling finds that Americans think government is too powerful and too intrusive, with trimming back the size of the state popular among the younger voters that everybody watches so closely. And if you want to restrain government, divided government has a good historical record of achieving restraint by accident, if not as a deliberate policy choice.

Americans don't like gridlock? Maybe they think they're not supposed to like gridlock. But they just voted for more of it. And they may well know what they're doing.

NEXT: Voters Reject Pension Reform in Phoenix

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  1. The voters just want the politicians to stop bickering and Get Things Done. What exactly they want the politicians to do is another matter.

    1. Unfortunately, getting things done in government is usually thought of this way:

      http://www.insanity.net/shirt-…..-shirt.gif

    2. Getting things done is DoublePlusGood.

    3. Unfortunately politicians usually take get things done to mean DO the people.

  2. Goodnight, you princes of statism. You’ve won again. I bow to your superior gamesmanship.

      1. Cheer up. Obama is now like a wounded animal backed into a corner. His fragile ego won’t allow him to take this lying down. Clinton was savvy enough to realize he needed to work with his rivals to get things done once they took over. Obama is not.

        That’s the good thing about statist assholes. They may all agree the state is the solution to all of life’s problems, but they disagree greatly on the nuances of that. Plus, they are sleazy, egotistical pricks.

        So, basically, hope that the two parties spend so much time attacking each other, even less gets done in Washington than before.

        Most of what Obama does with his pen and phone can be reversed by the next president.

        1. When a mobster gets beat he never shows his emotion thinking he’ll fight another day. He just smiles and says ‘okay. You got me. Let’s make a deal’ all the while he’s planning his revenge.

          Clinton, to his credit, understood you have to think this way to function and survive in the jungle.

          I could be wrong but it’s how I read it.

          Now we’ll see just how smart and efficient Obama is.

          1. smart and efficient Obama=mobster

        2. “Cheer up. Obama is now like a wounded animal backed into a corner. His fragile ego won’t allow him to take this lying down. Clinton was savvy enough to realize he needed to work with his rivals to get things done once they took over. Obama is not.”

          Heh. I don’t see the GOP bigwigs being any more amicable. Any talk about “reaching across the aisle”, “compromise” or “working together” gets the derpcores in both parties screaming TRAITOR! RINO! DINO! SQUISHY MIDDLEZZZ!

          1. “Any talk about “reaching across the aisle”, “compromise” or “working together” gets the derpcores in both parties screaming TRAITOR! RINO! DINO! SQUISHY MIDDLEZZZ!” What exactly is the problem with this? That’s a feature, not a bug. We want them to effin hate one another and accomplish precisely nothing.

        3. I think we should arm the house, senate and president and require them to attend sessions locked and loaded.

  3. Rand Paul 2016, Baby!

  4. Fun little fact: Louisiana is the only state to not hold its state elections on First Tuesday after the First Monday of November.

    Maine used to hold its elections (State, House and Senate) in September all the way until 1960.

  5. Oh, and Sandra Fluke lost her CA state senate race. To another Democrat, but at least she lost.

    1. Racists !

  6. Wrong analysis.

    Over the next two years, in preparation for 2016, Democrats will be highly motivated to put as much distance between them and the Obama legacy as humanly possible. They will take any opportunity to join a veto override on any even marginally bipartisan bill on which Obama chooses to exercise his pen.

    If Obama wants any positive legacy, he will be compelled to do what Bill Clinton did in the 1990s. Namely, do what Republicans want him to do and call it his victory (remember the “Clinton Surplus”?) However, the list six years offers no evidence that Obama had Bill Clinton’s political skills or opportunistic instinct.

    1. Clinton did get credit for welfare reform even though that was an entirely Republican driven reform.

      1. And not really much of a reform at all, since the government began subsidizing child care for women who couldn’t make a high enough wage to make it worthwhile for them to work.

  7. Where did John go? I thought he would be all over this stuff.

  8. Yay! Yay for things the new majority can get bipartisan support for: More “safety!” More law enforcement to fight Unsafe things! More military funding to fight more unsafe things overseas (“We all agree that Ebola is an example of a profoundly unsafe threat…”) And so on.

    Both parties really suck and libertarians are the perennial losers no matter who wins. This just means that they’ll find some common ground to pass some really ugly shit in areas where their statism overlaps.

  9. I can’t really get upset about this election since nothing that I actually believe was up for any significant discussion. Did Mary Landrieu, Mark Pryor, Kay Hagen, or Tom Udall talk about income inequality, or universal health care, or radically decreasing the defense budget? Republicans were smart enough not to run on what they actually believe and the Democrats that ran in these Red states didn’t run on anything significant other than to specify that they were positively, absolutely not Obama. Given the choice between nothing and something voters chose the people actually pushing ideas. I would have voted for Sean Haugh over Kay Hagen– that’s how bad Democratic messaging was.

    BTW, libertarians, the first two things our new hero– Mitch McConnell– mentioned that he wants to fix are border security and making sure the country is “safe”. You see, we’ve won so now we can get back to what’s really important to miniarchists– hating Obama.

    1. That’s it, amsoc. Stiff upper lip. Those grapes were probably sour anyway.

      1. Everyone I voted for won– almost down the line. It’s not something I’m particularly used to. So… I won ‘t have to deal with reactionary bigots in the GOP talking about how we need to secure the border, or gay marriage, or Ebola– at least locally. Is it time for “libertarians” to get behind a war or two now that arch-fiend Harry Reid won’t be running the Senate? Whatever elevates the status of John McCain is a victory for those of us who Aren’t looking for a small country to bomb I say.

        1. That’s some Class A derp, right there.

          Well done.

    2. QQ Moar AMSOC =D

    3. Mitch McConnell…what’s really important to miniarchists

      Strawman. None of us like McConnell. Leave us alone and go back to your commune.

      1. He would, but, for some reason, he needs all of us to join his commune, whether we want to, or not.

        Something about “ran out of other people’s money” or some such.

    4. american socialist|11.5.14 @ 8:03AM|#
      “I can’t really get upset about this election…”

      Hi, dipshit! Pay your mortgage yet? Still licking mass murderer ass?
      Just making sure you remain a sleazy POS!

    5. …Tom Udall… the Democrats that ran in these Red states…

      Colorado isn’t a red state. It used to be, but since 2006 we’ve had Dem governors, 2 Dem senators, Dem majorities in the state legislature, and a majority of our house delegation has been Dem. And Obama carried the state both times. Udall lost re-election in a blue state, not a red state.

  10. I for one welcome more party gridlock. While the cat and dog are fighting, like a mouse I can quietly slip away with the cheese. =)

    1. Yeah, if I really want to know where the country is headed politically, I just look at the referendum votes around the country. Glad to see Alaska, Oregon and DC puff-puff-passing their legalization bills.

      1. I with there. Aside from a town or two Maine voted to decriminalize small amounts. Hopefully there will be more to come.

  11. After all, President Obama’s personal approval ratings are also in the toilet, and his signature policy?the Affordable Care Act?continues to evoke a mass gag reflex from the public and was specifically cited as a negative by almost half of voters in this election.

    NOT SO – SHRIEK ASSURED ME THIS WAS NOT THE CASE!!!!

  12. I think many people like myself intentionally vote for gridlock and know that is what they are doing. The less these politicians can do the better for the entire country.

    1. Given the choices this is almost always my strategy.

  13. my neighbor’s sister-in-law makes $82 every hour on the laptop . She has been unemployed for ten months but last month her check was $18198 just working on the laptop for a few hours. more tips here ….

    ????? http://www.netjob70.com

  14. Personally, I am an enthusiastic supporter of legislative GRIDLOCK?!

    I suspect Obama is now equally as enthusiastic. His fellow Dems in the legislature, probably not so much. They will have learned that distance from POTUS and his policies will improve their election prospects in 2016, including, and especially, for President. Perhaps the GOP will understand this and push an even more aggressive agenda… Shit, who am i kidding?

  15. Yea that was kind of my strategy. Voted for Libertarians in GA hoping to at least force a runoff to bleed more campaign money from the major parties, but then knowing Rep. would eventually win. Having a Rep majority in congress with a Dem president, the only thing that will pass is something a true majority of people support.

    If I can’t have the leadership I want, at least they are bound up from ramming stuff through with little debate.

  16. Hey N.D. you do know your sites name is called “reason”?

  17. But there’s a strong hint that they’re regurgitating sentiments that all of those right-thinking pundits tell them that they’re supposed to mouth.

    They’re not just regurgitating sentiments about why they hate Congress, they are also regurgitating the sentiments about hating Congress.
    If Congress was so hated, then why do more than 90% of incumbents get re-elected?
    We have far too many people, even ones who vote regularly, who are completely unaware of the role of government, as defined by the Framers, and, until our education system provides them with a better understanding, we will continue to get poll results and elections that swing back and forth between R’s and D’s.

  18. Dear fellow libertarians,

    I’m so sooper excited about our new allies– GOP church ladies and abortion prohibitionists and militarists. Yay! Something has got to be done about that Kim Jong un person. He so crazy. Don’t worry– with john McCain as head of the House Armed Services Committee we’ll be sooper prepared for North Korean treachery like the last time he was in Congress and wanted to start a nuclear war there for liberty’s sake. More defense dollars, religious extremism, and sanctimonious bitching about feminists and gays equals more freedom. Celebrate good times… Come on!

      1. Tangent. There are two things I have in my vocabulary since starting to read Reason: fuck off slaver and fytw.

    1. american socialist|11.5.14 @ 9:41AM|#
      “Dear fellow libertarians,”

      Hi, lying POS!

    2. trollin’, trollin’,trollin’, keep those doggies trollin, commie kid

    3. Have you considered trolling on a conservative site? After all, John McVain, et al are not really popular here.

      I know you like getting a rise out of folks, so why not doing it somewhere you can get a huge flaming riot?

      1. Awww…he’s having a bad day, be nice to him.

    4. American socialist:
      “with john McCain as head of the House Armed Services Committee”

      Do senators frequently join house committees?

      1. “Forget it, he’s rolling.”

      2. Told you I was sooper excited, didn’t i? Such a great day for liberty and guys like you want to quibble. Some peeps are never satisfied. Hmppf de dump, you are.

        1. american socialist|11.5.14 @ 12:29PM|#
          “Told you I was sooper excited, didn’t i?”

          Hi, dipshit! More lies to go with your slimy ethics and stupidity?

    5. Glad to see your communal farm’s straw harvest was so good this year.

    6. I’m so sooper excited about our new allies– GOP church ladies and abortion prohibitionists and militarists.

      I’d wager big money that you could not pass a Turing test with either us or a hardcore GOP supporter.

    7. *Don’t worry– with john McCain as head of the House Armed Services Committee *

      You’re so ignorant you don’t even know which branch of Congress your enemies are in. LOL

  19. BTW, where’s Mr. 8%?

    “the Affordable Care Act?continues to evoke a mass gag reflex from the public and was specifically cited as a negative by almost half of voters in this election.”

    1. With any luck they’ll find Weigel’s auto-erotic asphixiated corpse soon.

  20. I don’t think it was intentional, but I’m cool with it nonetheless.

  21. You’re reading waaaay too much into the outcomes of elections for terms staggered over time, in a large polity broken up into many also large polities, most of which elections were close, between candidates of huge & internally diverse political parties. I strongly doubt there are any but a tiny few voters who actually primarily want gov’t divided by party. It coincidentally comes out that way many times.

    Ask voters and they’ll tell you they’re voting for the (wo)man, not the party, anyway. Even in polities that are effectively single-party, they come out that way not because most of the voters care about the party, but because of positive feedback that results in the choices in all but one party being so slim as to command no following.

    1. *Ask voters and they’ll tell you they’re voting for the (wo)man, not the party, anyway.*

      LOL, oddly enough all these men & women they voted for just happened to be in the GOP. Weird.

  22. More gridlock means they are fucking up the country less.

  23. This is an ignorant article aimed at promoting dissension. Shame on you. While Obama may try to veto everything the Congress puts in front him he still has to follow the law. Of course with all the executive orders he has already penned in spite of the law and his failure to uphold the laws in place, his pen may not be an issue. I know you liberals need someone to tell you what to do and how to do it but be at peace, we will hold your hand all the way to freedom.

    1. While Obama may try to veto everything the Congress puts in front him he still has to follow the law.

      LULZ

  24. “… Americans just handed control … to the political party that has … challenged his policies, and attacked him at every turn.”

    I must have been watching TV news from another planet. Is this article about the same Republican Party led by “Cave-in” John Boehner, and Mitch McConnell on the planet Earth? Nah, it can’t be. It must be the Republican Party on a planet circling a star in Orion’s belt this article is about. It certainly isn’t about the Republicans on this planet.

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