By Kylie Jacobsen
On November 4th, the GOP had reasons to celebrate. With a net gain of thirteen seats in the House, the Republicans kept their majority in the House of Representatives. The icing on the cake, however, was that the Republicans took control of the Senate as well, with a net gain of nine seats. The Republicans finally had control of both chambers of Congress for the first time since 2006.
This was great news for the Republican Party. But, will the good news last? Will the Republicans be able to keep their control of Congress? The answer isn’t so simple.
Today, we heard from a panel of speakers that spoke to us about predictions for the 2016 elections. It included Rick Klein (Political Director for ABC News), Stephen Dinan (Political Editor for the Washington Times), Bill Press (Host of The Press Show), and Amy Walter (National Editor for the Cook Political Report). Within their discussion, they also spoke about the 2014 midterm election results and what this indicates for Republican Party’s future.
Walter pointed out that the Democratic Party does not mobilize votes as well in the midterm elections, as most of their voters vote only in presidential elections. Because of this, the Republicans benefit and can gain seats in Congress. Younger and minority voters tend to stay home during the midterms, while white and older voters have an increased voter turnout, which research has supported. White and older voters tend to be Republican, while younger and minority voters tend to be Democratic.
2016 is a presidential election year. With increased Democratic voter turnout at the polls, it is more likely that Democratic votes will be cast. This is not good news for the Republicans.
Another problem for the Democrats in the past election is that they didn’t have a clear message to send out to the voters. Press said that Republicans had it easy – all they had to do was blame Obama (which they are pretty used to by now). The Democrats had a much harder time crafting a message to attract voters.
Although throwing the blame towards Obama works now, the Republicans won’t be able to get away with that in 2016. He will be finishing up his second term and is ineligible for reelection. Who else can the Republicans blame?
Arguably, the most important reason that the Republicans had such great success in the 2014 midterms is that they had better chances of taking seats from Democrats than the other way around. Twenty-one of the seats up for reelection in 2014 were held by Democrats, and the Republicans benefited from this.
This will not be the case in 2016. The Republicans will be defending twenty-four seats, while the Democrats will be defending ten. Currently, the Republicans control fifty-four seats, meaning that if the Democrats gain five seats, they control the Senate once again. This is not an arduous task.
Republicans across the U.S. were quite pleased with the results from election night. Many of my Republican friends from Drake said “Now we only have to take the presidency in 2016, and we’ll finally have full control!” But, this is going to be a lot more difficult than anyone originally anticipated.
There is some good news, however. Dinan expressed some optimism for the Republican party. He stated that if McConnell and Boehner prove to be effective leaders in Congress, the Republicans have the potential to make an impact and fix what many of us call a broken system. He also stated that there are some bipartisan reforms, such as the repeal of the medical device tax, that can help boost the reputation of the GOP.
If the Republicans fail, then the Democrats will find it easy to blame them, further helping their chances in the elections. This leaves a lot of pressure on the Republican Party in the next two years.
Regardless, 2016 will be quite an interesting election year, not only because of the presidential election, but because of the Congressional elections as well.