In what is widely expected to be a historic victory for the Republican Party in today’s national mid-term elections, here are some comments on today’s political trends from scholars associated with the Cato Institute, a conservative think-tank based in Washington D.C.
“The Republicans lost young people, suburban women, college graduates, independents and libertarians in the past couple of elections because of their overspending, the wars, and going too far right on the social issues. Since 2008 Republican leaders have kept the focus on economic issues, and it's brought them a big victory. They need to learn that lesson: stay away from social issues in 2011, cut federal spending, and stay focused on reducing the government's burden on the economy.”
“The real job for the Tea Party movement starts Wednesday. When a government overreaches as much as the Obama administration did, an electoral backlash is to be expected. The challenge now is to hold the politicians' feet to the fire, to insist on real spending cuts and defunding of the health care overhaul. Too often, the voters go home after election day, and the special interests go to work. Can the Tea Party keep the pressure on?”
--David Boaz, executive vice president
“This election will be a win for economic conservatives, not social conservatives. Not surprisingly given the economic climate, economic issues dominated the campaign, with social issues barely registering. This was particularly helpful for Republicans, since economically conservative, socially moderate suburban voters, who backed Democrats in 2006 and 2008, switched to Republicans this year. There is a lesson here for Republicans in the future.”
“In the months leading up to the election, we heard a great deal about the so-called ‘civil war’ in the Republican Party. As it turns out, there wasn't one. Despite some spirited, even bitter, primary fights, Republicans of all stripes were able to unify around a common opposition to the Obama agenda. But having achieved electoral success, Republicans will now be forced to confront the serious divisions in their party: tea partiers vs. the GOP establishment; economic conservatives vs. social conservatives; budget hawks vs. neoconservatives. The "civil war" will be back with a vengeance.
“No issue hurt Democrats as much as the health care bill. It wasn’t just that voters hate the bill—they do—but that it crystallized the average American’s antipathy to a government that was too big, too costly and too out of touch. Voters will declare that they don’t want government running health care…and come to think of it, they don’t want government running much else either.”
--Michael D. Tanner, senior fellow
“It appears Tuesday's election will be of the ‘throw the bums out’ variety, as Republicans are widely expected to make significant gains in the House and Senate. However, even in a year when Congress' approval ratings are in the abyss, only about 100 of 435 House and 12 of 37 Senate races are ‘in play.’ This suggests that tomorrow's big winner will actually be an electoral system designed to protect incumbents.”
-- Brandon Arnold, director of government affairs
“This election poses one question that has largely been ignored. In 1982, Ronald Reagan's party lost 26 House seats when the economy was contracting and unemployment was at 10 percent. In 2010, Barack Obama's party is expected to lose more than 55 House seats when the economy is growing and unemployment is similar to 1982. Why the difference?”
--John Samples, director, Center for Representative Government:
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