On Wednesday, the Associated Press called the outstanding race for congress in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional district. Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ), a former aide to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and her successor in office, was narrowly defeated by Republican Martha McSally.
With McSally’s victory, the 2014 midterm elections have officially concluded. At the start of the 114th Congress, Republicans will enjoy their largest majority in the House of Representatives since prior to the Great Depression and the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt with 247 members. The last time the GOP enjoyed that large of a majority was the 71st Congress in 1929 and 1930.
In the Senate, the GOP will be in an almost equally unparalleled position of power.
“Republicans will control 54 out of 100 seats,” The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake noted. “That’s tied for their fourth-highest number of seats since that same 1929-30 Congress, but the larger three were majorities of 55 seats — i.e. only one more seat.”
Combined with the GOP’s dominance at the state legislative level (Republicans control 56 percent of seats in the legislatures, the highest number since 1920), and the party’s control of 31 of 50 gubernatorial mansions, the Republican Party will be in the strongest position it has seen since prior to the popularization of Democratic progressivism.
“The last time the GOP clearly had more power than today was in the early 1920s, when it controlled more than 70 percent of governorships, 69 percent of the House and more than 60 percent of Senate seats,” Blake observed.
That’s nothing to sneeze at, and it is all due to the ideological realignment of the Democratic Party.
The press and the political analyst class are near myopically focused on the Republican Party’s ideological realignment. And it is true that the GOP has become a more conservative party since the end of the last century. They rarely, however, devote much of their attentions to the realignment of the Democratic Party, which has become markedly more liberal in the early part of this century.
The Democratic Party suffered two disastrous midterm elections not because the GOP made no mistakes or overreached. They did both, and they did so often. The Democrats suffered these debacles because the traditionally older and whiter midterm electorate has turned on the Democratic Party. As recently as 1998, it was possible for a midterm electorate in a Democratic president’s sixth year in office to overlook their frustrations with the incumbent in the White House. That kind of dispensation toward Democrats from a midterm electorate seems nearly unthinkable today.
In many ways, the Obama presidency has set his party back generations. Democrats console themselves with the notion that the president has accomplished things of which prior Democratic presidents could have only dreamed. Today’s decision to loosen trade and travel restrictions on Cuba is only the latest development that progressives contend will ensure that posterity recalls the Obama presidency fondly. The most notable of these conditions, however, is the 2010 health care reform law.
But either through retirements or lost elections, half of the U.S. senators who voted for Obamacare, all of whom were Democrats, will be gone in 2015. Among those who remain, doubts about the political disaster the Affordable Care Act has wrought for the president’s party are tearing the Democratic coalition in Congress apart.
For a party that views FDR as its ideological godfather, it is a supreme irony that a president who supposedly represented his second coming is instead overseeing the destruction of his legacy.