1. All Politics Are Local
Not only did the Republicans post large gains in the U.S. House and Senate, they won at the state level as well, with a number of traditional “blue” governor seats going red, including Maryland, Massachusetts, and even the President’s home state of Illinois. In addition, the Republicans held onto a number of contested governor races in Wisconsin, Florida, and Georgia. Republicans will now hold the governor seat in 31 states to 18 for Democrats, with only one race still too close to call in Alaska where Independent Bill Walker is currently leading as ballot counting is still being finalized.
2. “Our” Guys Win Again
Our two emergency physicians in the House won again. Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) crushed his opponent by a 61–37 percent margin, despite the fact that his race was still in the toss-up column only about a month ago. In California, Rep. Raul Ruiz (D) won by a nice six-point margin against a strong opponent. Kudos to Joe and Raul for their hard work on behalf of the people of their districts and emergency physicians everywhere. NEMPAC directly contributed the maximum allowable amount of $10,000 to Joe and Raul, as well as paid for independent expenditure ads totaling nearly another $175,000. I talked with Joe and Raul both before and after the elections, and you should know that your contributions were appreciated by both.
3. What Was the Message?
The big question asked the morning after the election: was the Republican tidal wave just a referendum on the President and voters’ dissatisfaction with him, or was it a repudiation of the Democratic Party and its platform? The answer to this question may not come until 2016, but every potential candidate for 2016 needs to answer this now because their strategy will depend on on it. Republicans will say that it was both and will try to tie the next Democratic nominee (Hillary, Biden, Warren?) to the President and the platform of the party, stating it will be a “third term for Obama.” Republicans, on the other hand, are going to need to demonstrate that they can lead the country and not assert their Second Amendment right to bear arms and shoot themselves in the foot. Whether the Republicans can develop a platform and find a candidate who reaches out to young people, minorities, and women remains to be seen. It is already clear that Chris Christie and Rand Paul are positioning themselves to be the Republican candidate for president, while Jeb Bush works quietly in the background. (See sidebar for a full list of rumored presidential candidates.)