Even before a majority of races had been called on election night, liberals were circulating articles and press releases blaming Republican losses on a “too-conservative” agenda. If only the leadership had pursued legislation raising the minimum wage and expanding embryonic stem cell research, they argued, we would not have suffered the losses we did. But the facts don’t support such claims. Simply put, the outcome of this year’s election was a resounding defeat for the politics of big government, rampant spending, and ‘politics as usual.’ Cold comfort though it may be, conservatism was not the culprit.
Republican Study Committee Chairman Mike Pence put it well when he said, “We did not just lose our Majority – we lost our way. We are in the wilderness because we walked away from the limited government principles that minted the Republican Congress.” Voters responded to bloated budgets, deficit spending, and expanding federal programs – not to the values spelled out in the Contract with America.
In fact, conservatives have quite a bit of good news to hold onto in the House of Representatives. Relatively speaking, conservatives have actually increased their strength within the Republican Party, as there were fewer conservatives than centrists defeated on election night. The Republican Main Street Partnership, a group of socially liberal Republicans that counted roughly 40 House Members among its ranks before last week, suffered significant losses. As RSMP Executive Director Sarah Chamberlain Resnick put it when interviewed about the results of the elections, “Oh my God, it was a bloodbath for us. We paid the price for the President’s agenda.” Although several Republican Study Committee Members were defeated, Congressman Mike Pence’s group still includes more than 100 Members, and it will represent the “majority of the minority” in the 110th Congress.
The new crop of Republicans is even better news. Of the thirteen newly-elected Republican Members, there are easily ten who ran as fiscal and social conservatives. They are: Michele Bachmann (MN-6), Vern Buchanan (FL-13), David Davis (TN-1), Mary Fallin (OK-5), Jim Jordan (OH-4), Doug Lamborn (CO-5), Peter Roskam (IL-6), Bill Sali (ID-1), Adrian Smith (NE-3), and Tim Walberg (MI-7). Though each of them holds a seat that was vacated by a Republican, only Mary Fallin replaces a current Member of the Republican Study Committee. Each of the other Members-elect represents a chance to expand the ranks of the RSC.