Midterms' Real Winner? Independent Voters and (Maybe) Fiscal Sanity
In a new column at Time.com, I take the measure of the Republican wave in the midterms. While there's no question that the GOP won huge, that's not the same thing as saying voters affirmatively embraced the Republican agenda (indeed, it is far from clear that there is a clearly drawn agenda).
Yet Republicans mistake the meaning of the midterms at their own peril. These elections were a particularly frank repudiation of Barack Obama and the past six years of failed stimulus, disastrous foreign policy, and rotten economic news. Even the president's historic health-care reform remains a negative with voters. But if the GOP thinks it has a mandate to return to the equally unpopular bailout economics and social conservatism of the George W. Bush years, it too will be sent packing as early as the next election.
A few days before the midterms, just 33% of respondents in an ABC News/Washington Post poll gave the GOP a "favorable" rating, which was 6 percentage points lower than what they gave the Democrats. A whopping 60% said that President Obama had no "clear plan for governing," but even more (66%) said the Republicans lacked one.
My biggest concern is that between a declared interest in hiking defense spending and "protecting" and "preserving" budget-busting entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security and a pent-up desire to reward favored constituents, the GOP is going to crank up spending.
Watch "2014 Midterms: The Very Best (and Worst!) Outcomes"