Many on the Left have sought to diminish the midterm election results, citing low voter turnout to throw cold water on the notion that Republicans won a mandate in their Election Night romp. President Obama himself attempted to address the electoral results through this prism, going out of his way to note that 'two-thirds' of voters failed to cast ballots in his first post-election press conference:
Liberals' preferred story instantaneously shifted from "there will be #NoWave," to "that wave doesn't really count because no one voted." Obama's message implied that a small minority of Americans threw his party out of office, while many people stayed home out of disillusionment with politics in general. Three pieces of empirical data debunk this narrative. Item one:
In battleground SEN/GOV states, turnout only down 30.5% from '12 presidential. In non-btlgrd states, down 44% http://t.co/UOWyRPnFBR— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) November 18, 2014
In other words, turnout was substantially higher in contested, 'battleground' races -- which Republicans practically swept. Especially at the statewide level. The GOP won nine out of the top ten contested Senate races, and even made Virginia extremely close. The party performed extremely well in gubernatorial contests, too, netting three. Heated races produced higher turnout…and Republicans carried the day. Item two:
The American people don’t want President Barack Obama to take the lead on enacting policy, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll out Wednesday…By a clear 56% to 33% margin, those surveyed don’t want Mr. Obama to take the lead role in setting policy, preferring that Congress take the lead role…The 56% who now want Congress to take the lead role in policy making is a high water mark in the poll’s history. The WSJ/NBC poll found Americans are pleased that the Republican victories in this month’s midterm elections were broadly viewed as a rebuke to the president – 53% said they feel positive about the idea that “fewer people were elected who support President Obama’s legislative agenda.” Only 41% said they feel badly about candidates who back Mr. Obama’s agenda losing.
Let me underscore a key fact: This NBC/WSJ poll was among all adults, not 2014 voters. The fanciful notion that some silent majority of non-voters prefer Democrats, or quasi-endorsed Obama's agenda via their non-participation, is verifiably false. Which brings us to item three, and another national post-election poll of US adults:
Following the midterm election that some have termed a Republican wave, the majority of Americans want the Republicans in Congress -- rather than President Barack Obama -- to have more influence over the direction the country takes in the coming year. This is a switch from early 2012 when a slim plurality, 46%, wanted Obama to prevail in steering the nation...Republicans' 17-percentage-point edge over Obama on this measure exceeds what they earned after the 2010 midterm, when Americans favored Republicans by an eight-point margin (49% to 41%). It also eclipses the nine-point advantage Republicans had over Bill Clinton following the 1994 midterm in which Republicans captured the majority of both houses.
The American people have spoken. Clearly. Yet this is how the president has chosen to respond.