Republican moderates and liberals have been out trying to spin last Tuesday’s election as something that it wasn’t. I’ve been hearing them on Fox News. Brit Hume was saying it on election eve, and Mara Liasson was saying it the day after the election – claiming this was a victory for the Republican establishment. They winnowed the Tea Party candidates out of the field, and their moderate, establishment candidates won the day.
This is so wrong, and on two levels.
First of all, several of the biggest victories were by Tea Party candidates. Joni Ernst in Iowa, Tom Cotton in Arkansas, and Ben Sasse in Nebraska were all backed in their primaries by the Tea Party, and they are among the big victors. Ben Sasse was vehemently opposed by the Republican establishment, as I reported back in May (see my post: Ben Sasse – bucking the Republican establishment.) And Sasse won with 65% of the vote. Compare that to Pat Roberts running in a demographically similar state, Kansas. Sasse was running for an open seat. Pat Roberts was running with the power of incumbency. Both had bruising primaries, so in that they were equal. But Roberts got only 53% of the vote in Kansas while Tea-Partier Sasse beat his opponent by over 2 to 1.
But that’s not even the strongest point. Even the Republican moderates who were elected all ran on Tea Party platforms. Now we know they won’t govern that way, but that’s how they ran. A study by the Conservative Victory Project showed that, for example, every single newly elected Republican senator ran on the full repeal of Obamacare, running over 40,000 ads nationwide on that issue. They ran on reducing federal spending, lowering taxes, balancing the budget, and cutting corporate welfare. Chamber-of-Commerce-supported Republican moderates have been promoting the keeping of the status quo in all those areas.
Mitch McConnell even decided to do a flip-flop in Kentucky, running ads in the final days of his campaign saying he was for the repeal of Obamacare, while telling reporters in interviews that he had no such intention.
No, these moderates understand that the American people want to shrink government and get rid of Obamacare. But once they have their victories, then they try to tell us that moderating the Republican message is the way to win. They clearly don’t even believe what they are saying.
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