December 2014 - Volume 19, Number 4
Election 2014: A Conservative Victory?
by John Hendrickson
The 2014 midterm elections proved to be very historic as voters across the nation responded against President Barack Obama’s policies. The Republicans strengthened their majority in the United States House of Representatives and took control of the United States Senate. As an editorial in Investor’s Business Daily noted:
Although most of the post-election focus is on the national results there were major changes in the states. “In state legislative races across the country, Republicans saw a litany of pick-ups, with nearly two-thirds of all state legislatures now under Republican control,” noted Collin Levy in The Wall Street Journal. “Seven state chambers flipped to the Republicans, including the state Houses in Minnesota, New Hampshire, West Virginia, New Mexico and Nevada,” wrote Levy. Several Republican incumbent Governors were also reelected, most notably Governors Sam Brownback (R-KS), Scott Walker (R-WI), and John Kasich (R-OH).
Stephen Moore, who serves as chief economist for The Heritage Foundation, wrote that the election “was a huge victory for the supply-side agenda.” As Moore argues:
Voters in several states “decided 146 propositions in November, comprised of 100 legislative proposals, 35 initiatives, four referendums, five advisory measures, and two other measures.” Some of the more controversial measures included legalization of marijuana and minimum wage. The Initiative & Referendum Institute reports that “perhaps the biggest proposition story on election night was the approval of initiatives to legalize recreational use of marijuana in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C.” This is an unfortunate trend that seems to be sweeping the country as many voters take a more liberal and libertarian approach to drug legalization.
In regard to minimum wage, “voters in five states, Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska, and South Dakota, approved proposals to increase the minimum wage.” While voters seemed to approve increasing state minimum wage rates, other voters voted to limit taxes. As the Initiative & Referendum Institute reports:
“The tax-hiking agenda fared poorly on ballots all over the country,” noted an editorial from Investor's Business Daily. Tennessee's approval of a “constitutional amendment banning an income tax” is probably the most significant of all of the tax-related ballot measures. Wisconsin voters approved a measure “mandating that all gas-tax money go for transportation projects.” “No more raiding the highway trust fund of $1.5 billion that's supposed to fill potholes and instead is used as a piggy bank to finance everything from day care centers to lavish pensions.” As Investor's Business Daily stated:
Other important ballot measures that voters considered included the passage of Amendment Three in Georgia, which “declares a right to bear arms.” In Mississippi voters approved a measure that “declares the right to hunt and fish.” Arizona voters sent a warning signal to the federal government by passing a measure that “declares that the state may decline to administer federal programs.” Abortion was also a divisive issue as two “life” amendments failed in Colorado and in North Dakota, while voters in Tennessee approved Amendment 1, which “declares that the state Constitution does not provide a right to abortion or require abortions to be publicly funded.”
The 2014 midterm elections demonstrated that voters are tired and frustrated with the current polices being advanced by President Barack Obama and the Democrats, but even with the strong Republican victories the policy battle will continue. Certainly voters did reject big government by handing control of the U.S. Senate to the Republicans, and as Moore argues many pro-tax Governors won at the state level, but much more work needs to be done to advance limited-government and free-market policies.
The nation is still divided. “The American people are today a deeply divided people — on ideology, politics, faith, morality, race, culture,” wrote Patrick J. Buchanan.
 Editorial, “Nine biggest losers of the GOP’s epic 2014 midterm win,” Investor’s Business Daily, November 5, 2014, <http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/110514-725139-after-gop-wave-there-were-some-very-big-losers.htm> accessed on November 6, 2014.
John Hendrickson is a
Research Analyst with Public Interest Institute.
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