How can the GOP blow the advantage it gained at the state and national levels in last week's midterm elections? By mistaking hostility toward Barack Obama's failed policies for a positive embrace of a vaguely defined conservative agenda heavy on increased spending (especially on defense) and the promotion of a narrowly defined range of acceptable lifestyles.
As can be gleaned from some of the midterms' other results, voters want a government that keeps its nose out of our private lives and morality. Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. all legalized recreational pot and staunchly anti-abortion "fetal personhood" initiatives were voted down in the two states that put the matter before voters (support for Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that guarantees a woman's right to a first-trimester abortion, has remained above 50 percent for decades). Gallup finds fewer and fewer Americans think the state should "promote traditional values." Currently, 48 percent agree with that notion while an equal number says "the government should not favor any particular set of values….
At the same time, twice as many Americans think there's too much regulation of business and the economy as believe there's too little and 59% think the government has "too much power." That's up 17 percentage points from a decade ago.
That's from a column I wrote for Time. Read the whole thing here.
If Republicans move quickly to shrink the size, scope, and spending of government, we'll know they got the message. If they act instead on symbolic issues and work to pay off their favored constituencies, we'll know that they will be likely to get bounced in the next cycle.
Here's Reason TV's "The Very Best (and Worst!) Election Outcomes." Go here for full text of that.