Without the core Democratic base at the polls, conservatives dominated the electorate, making up 41 percent of voters. In 2008, they were 34 percent of the total. Given that even moderates opted strongly for Democrats by a 55 to 42 margin this election, their relative scarcity compared to fired up conservatives wasn’t enough to offset those massive Republican gains.
The exit polls are clear, Democrats didn’t lose because of a sudden rightward switch in the country, but because elections are won by those whose voters show up to the polls. And last Tuesday, it was Republicans.
Now, this new GOP-led House will make sure that nothing of note passes, and will try to gum up the works further with investigations into President Obama’s birth certificate and other such insanities. There’s nothing Democrats can do about that, but with power comes responsibility, and presumptive Speaker John Boehner will be under pressure to walk the line between the ideological purity his tea party base demands, and the pragmatism of governing. When he fails (and he will), Democrats need to be ready to pounce.