If Tuesday’s election was a referendum on the presidency of Barack Obama, the message was pretty clear.
Voters are extremely dissatisfied with the current administration.
Even in the President’s home district, the Democratic candidate was unable to win Obama’s former senate seat.
Republican Mark Kirk beat Alexi Giannoulias in what must have been an absolute nightmare or perhaps a much needed wake up call for the President.
Having the President’s former senate seat go to a Republican speaks volumes about the mindset of the electorate. In some areas of the country, voter discontent ran so high that a Democrat probably could not have been elected dog catcher must less anything else.
Nationally, Republicans gained control of the House, narrowly missed gaining control of the Senate and picked up a number of gubernatorial races. So what does this Republican victory mean for the next two years? For the President, this election means he is, for all intents and purposes, a lame duck for the rest of his term. Any dreams President Obama may have held regarding the passage of cap and tax or any other revolutionary legislation have now been dashed. Even his signature health care reform may be in jeopardy as Republicans seek to amend or repeal parts of the far-reaching law.
Even worse, the President is now facing the likely possibility that he will not win re-election. With his approval ratings remaining low and independent voters leaning increasingly towards conservative candidates, President Obama will face a tough battle in 2012.
Another possible, if unlikely, problem for the President is that he may even face a challenge from within his own party.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has enjoyed rising popularity as the man to whom she lost her presidential bid continues to falter. Though rumors regarding another presidential run have swirled almost from the day she conceded the 2008 nomination to Obama, the outcome of the midterm elections will surely provide impetus for a 2012 challenge to an unpopular sitting president.
For the GOP, big election victories mean it is time to put up or shut up. With the campaign over, Republicans must now prove they can do what they promised and that list of promises is quite long – 48 pages to be exact.
In their “Pledge to America,” Republicans have promised to create jobs, end economic uncertainty, reform Congress, restore trust, stop out of control government spending and reduce the size of government among other things. A tall order to be sure.
Given the rancor that has permeated national politics over the past few years, it will be difficult for the Republicans to find enough common ground with their Democratic rivals to succeed with the promised reforms. Though they may not be able to accomplish everything they have proposed, it is critical that they try their level best.
Voters have expressed a great deal of anger with their elected representatives. Poll after poll shows voters feel their voices are not being heard in Washington. If Republicans fail to heed this warning, the results could be disastrous for the party in 2012.
Nov. 2 may have been a referendum on President Obama’s performance, but that is really just part of the story. It’s showtime for Republicans. In two years, the GOP will either be booed off the national political stage or get the much desired curtain call which will sweep a Republican back into the White House. Hopefully, the events of the past few years have taught Republicans and Democrats alike that voters are paying attention and expect better out of the men and women we elect to office.
Kristi Reed is a reporter for the Barrow Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.