Tuesday night was historic for many reasons. Wisconsin is the only state in the country that flipped the Governor's Mansion and both legislative chambers to the Republican Party. The last time this happened on a single day was back in 1938. As Mark Belling put it, Tuesday's election was the worst defeat for the Democrat Party in the history of Wisconsin politics.
Wisconsin took action and fired the two most influential state leaders in the Democrat Party. State Senate Majority leader Russ Decker and Speaker of the State Assembly Mike Sheridan both lost their jobs on Tuesday. This is like Indian Jones' witchdoctor from the Temple of Doom ripping the heart out of his victim's chest while it was still beating. On Election night, the Democrat Party saw its beating heart ripped out resting in the hands of the Wisconsin electorate.
On a Congressional level, Dave Obey and Steve Kagen lost their seats to the GOP. For three Congressional seats to change parties in a single election is a substantial win for the GOP. 5 of the 8 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives now belong to Republicans.
All the political pundits agree that Tuesday’s election sent a loud message to Washington. Not all of them, however, are sure what the message was. President Obama, for instance, denies that Tuesday's election was a rebuke of his progressive policies. Nay, it was the economy and stagnant unemployment rates that did him in.
Voces de la Frontera, a leftist fringe group from Milwaukee, seems to agree. In a recent flier, they said that one of the principal reasons for the dramatic shift in power was that unemployment and foreclosures showed a slow pace of reform. However, recent data from the Wall Street Journal refutes their claim showing that Democrats lost more seats in districts with better economies than they did in districts hard hit by the recession. More specifically, out of 16 Democrats in districts affected most by unemployment, poverty rates and foreclosures, 14 of them won their re-election bids. Their constituencies did not punish them because of a bad economy.
According to recent polling data, 45% of the voters said that their vote was meant to send a message to President Obama that they didn't like his health care plan. And just how did they do that? 33 of the 219 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives that voted for Obamacare lost their seats. But only 99 of those 219 seats were located in competitive districts. This means that one-third of Democrats that voted for Obamacare were not re-elected, while 11 out of 34 Democrats saved their Congressional seats by running against the bill.
I think it's clear that Tuesday’s election was a referendum on Obamacare. Of course, politics is not a vacuum. Stagnating unemployment rates and millions in lost jobs make it tough for the party in power to retain power. But Obama's missteps didn't mitigate the situation. Remember BP's long drawn-out oil spill crisis in the Gulf, failing to close Gitmo, attempting to try terrorists in New York, supporting the Mosque, doing a fly-over of Ground Zero using Air Force One, engaging in an apology tour around the world, and failing to push comprehensive immigration reform?
Each misstep took small slices out of Obama's approval pie, but Obama's ratings took the biggest hit when a Democrat-controlled Congress force fed a massive health-care bill down the throats of the American people. The 2,000 page bill that Democrats admittedly didn't read was a big pill to swallow, but it was also the manner in which they delivered the bill. Through arm-twisting tactics and back room deals with unions, Nancy Pelosi told us that history was made. No, history was made after Obamacare agitated the masses and sprung up a diffuse nation-wide Tea Party movement. Anyone recall the angry town hall meetings during the August break?
In Wisconsin, Obamacare was a particularly lethal dose. U.S. Senator Russ Feingold and U.S. Congressman Steven Kagen lost their jobs because of their stand. I recall Feingold being beseeched by his constituents at his town hall meetings to vote against the bill. He ignored them, so voters wrote his political obituary.
With control of the State Senate and Assembly, the top agenda for Republicans will be Voter ID and School Choice. As it concerns the latter, it will be interesting if our first Latina Legislator, JoCasta Zamarripa, will be a puppet for the Teachers’ Union or a true advocate for Hispanic parents and children. Nationwide, 70% of Hispanics support voucher schools because it works. Yet Zamarripa, a product of Choice Schools, does not support it. In an effort to inform her constituency, El Conquistador will make sure her votes on voucher schools will be published.
As Governor-Elect Walker said recently, it's time for Republicans to put up, or shut up. They have control of Wisconsin's government; therefore they must show Wisconsin they're serious about fiscal responsibility. Do not listen to the voices of the naysayers and fear-mongers that distribute false literature about the current election. By lifting the caps on voucher schools, expanding them outside the city of Milwaukee, and increasing Choice-School funding, Republicans have an opportunity to show Wisconsin that we can reform education while reducing costs to the taxpayer.