The Republican party powerful are once again drawing the wrong conclusions from election results. The overwhelming majority of Congressional candidates campaigned against President Obama and his policies (but not for much). The President actually helped cement this idea himself by saying his policies were on the ballot (even if he was not). The message from voters November 4, 2014 was – STOP President Obama’s policies – by whatever (moral, ethical, and legal) means necessary.
Apparently this message is inconvenient, because it’s already been misinterpreted into “end gridlock”, and “Work with Obama to get things done”. We here at GiN would contend, if that’s what voters wanted, they would have elected more Democrats, who would very willingly work with the President.
GOP Election Misinterpretation 2014 seems very much like GOP Election Misinterpretation 2012. The 2012 version was/is: Mitt Romney lost the election for one reason – DEMOGRAPHICS. So the GOP needs to pander to get different voters, not get different candidates. 2012 House and Senate failures? Those were due to extreme candidates and stupid primary voters. So, the GOP ruling class1For a thorough definition of “ruling class”, we once again recommend a read of the excellent essay “America’s Ruling Class and the Perils of ...continue needs to get control of the primaries.
Considering that the Nebraska Republican Party powerful operate and behave very much like their national counterparts (no accident, that), it’s no leap to predict that one very loud and specific message sent by many of Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District voters on Election Day 2014 will be misinterpreted and false narratives used to wash, SPIN, repeat, as many times as needed. Then it’ll be back to business as usual.
But, it’s business as usual that drove many District 2 voters to act as they did. And in more substantive ways, business as usual isn’t going to work long term.
Oh, sure, things seem all sunshine and rainbows right now, for Republicans everywhere, but, most especially here in “crimson red” Nebraska. Nebraska voters did just elect a bunch of people with “R’s” behind their names. But, if you believe that means anything in particular, let alone much of anything about limited government outcomes, then ignorance must truly be bliss. Unless the majority of those Nebraska R’s elected November 4, 2014, utterly defy historical precedent. If you find these assertions surprising or even offensive, you might want to read our series about Nebraska’s ruling class, and see also see footnote 1.
If you’re a liberty-minded, limited government Nebraskan – whether it’s local, state, or federal governance we’re talking about – it’s in your own best interest to ponder whether that message from Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District voters will penetrate the brains of the GOP ruling class. And to wonder about the impact if it doesn’t.
Lee Terry, Nebraska’s 2nd District incumbent Congressman, was defeated on Election Day 2014 by a man described by supporters as “marching to the beat of his own drummer” and a left-leaning D.C. political reporter who followed him around Omaha as “long-winded” and “struggles to stay on message and on task”.
State Senator Brad Ashford, now Representative-elect Ashford, was so described by those predisposed to be positive about him. Those not familiar with him can imagine what others might say. Those of us unfortunate enough to have witnessed Brad Ashford in action need no imagination – although we might rather2Members of GiN’s leadership team have witnessed State Senator Ashford in action numerous times, including “Live and in person”. Let’s just ...continue. Beyond that, Ashford is a fellow who seems to prefer a Wheel-of-Fortune sort of methodology for choosing his political party – he’s “spun the wheel” four times since 1988, with three of them just since 20113Ashford ran and won as a Democrat for State Legislature in 1986. In 1988, he became a Republican, continuing in the Unicameral through 1994, when he ...continue. Most recently, the wheel stopped on Democrat.
That doesn’t seem very lucky, especially in an election year described as a “Republican Wave”. But, the results are staggering. In a state that elected Republicans to every statewide and every other federal office, Congressional District 2 voters chose Brad Ashford over their incumbent Republican Congressman. But what’s more staggering is that the same District 2 voters followed state trends in voting for Republicans for U.S. Senate and every statewide office on the ballot4To see specific results for Congressional District 2 votes in statewide offices, such as Governor / Lt. Gov., select “View Map” and click on ...continue. (See footnote about State Legislative races5Since Nebraska’s state legislators appear on ballots as “NON-PARTISAN” and since it’s difficult to know how many voters were aware of the ...continue.)
In other words, Lee Terry was truly singled out. Why on earth would voters do that?
To clear up the fallacies from the left and false narratives from the right, any single or combination of which are cited as the definitive explanation(s) for Terry’s loss:
- It’s not because Terry voted for the government shutdown OR that he’s an entitled hypocrite (the “Dang Straight” remark).
It’s not that he’s been in office too long.
It’s not that he has a tendency to put his foot in his mouth or that he keeps “being ‘Lee Terry – Head Pundit’” all the time.
It’s not challenger Dan Frei’s fault.
It’s not (the inexplicable) Chip Maxwell’s fault.
While some of the above are true (Mr. Terry does have hoof-n-mouth disease) and some do provide explanations for why SOME District 2 voters either wanted Lee Terry out of office (Democrats / progressive Republicans) or were motivated to go to the polls (Democrats) and some of it does actually describe which strategies were undertaken (by Democrats), they don’t account for District 2 history before this election, and aren’t consistent with District 2 voting this election. Therefore, they aren’t definitive. But, they sure are convenient explanations for Nebraska’s ruling class.
Regarding how long Lee Terry has been the District 2 Congressman (16 years): if he were an outstanding representative, why would voters want him out? Good men are hard to find, let alone good representatives. So, the only truth in that “explanation” is that an undesirable representative had been in the 2nd District’s Congressional seat too long.But, it’s not like a lot of voters hadn’t tried to get him out. Numerous times. THAT is the point.
After all of the results are officially certified (sometime in the next few weeks), we will be able to see voter turn out by party affiliation, which can help provide some of the explanation for why Lee Terry lost. The rest of the explanation, absent in-depth election research in Nebraska, such as exit polling (who wants it, anyway?), must be found using logical reasoning. Based on the information available right now, some possible explanations:
- Democratic strategies worked by turning out more voters than the Republicans did. Those Democratic / left-leaning voters inexplicably decided to vote mostly for Republicans, but voted for the minimum wage increase and Ashford.
More right-leaning voters turned out than left-leaning, mostly voting for Republicans, except Lee Terry. Their votes for the minimum wage increase, while not logically consistent with their other votes, were consistent with public opinion polling on the subject, nation wide, and comparable to a number of other places in Nebraska, which also voted mostly for Republicans.
The correct interpretation is obvious: Lee Terry lost his race because he’d lost the support of too many right-leaning voters.
Next, I’ll explain why I think so many right-leaning voters believed the only option to get Lee Terry out of their Congressional District’s seat was to vote for such a man as Brad Ashford, a Libertarian, a write-in, or no one.
Picture of Rep. Lee Terry, from his Twitter account
113th Congress by representative’s political party affiliation map, National Atlas. A white circle indicating NE Congressional District 2 was added.
Notes & References [ + ]
|1.||↑||For a thorough definition of “ruling class”, we once again recommend a read of the excellent essay “America’s Ruling Class and the Perils of Revolution” by Angelo M. Codevilla.|
|2.||↑||Members of GiN’s leadership team have witnessed State Senator Ashford in action numerous times, including “Live and in person”. Let’s just say, he’s a man who both sticks out and sticks in one’s memory (and, craw). That being said, he’s been mentioned numerous times over the past several years in our articles and his conduct was the subject of one in particular, entitled “Extremism IS Dangerous: Politicization of Tragedy & Over-Reaction”. Some of the articles which mention Brad Ashford: Nebraska Medicaid Expansion:LB577 in Limbo, Deserving of Darts: NE Unicameral – Voter ID Bites the Dust, Collective Bargaining (CIR) Hearing Wed: Proposed Bill is NO REFORM AT ALL.|
|3.||↑||Ashford ran and won as a Democrat for State Legislature in 1986. In 1988, he became a Republican, continuing in the Unicameral through 1994, when he also ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1994. In 2011, he changed from Republican to Independent, which was his status when he ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Omaha in 2013. Sometime after the Mayoral election, he became a Democrat again. Sources: Wikipedia: Brad Ashford, Roll Call article, October 9|
|4.||↑||To see specific results for Congressional District 2 votes in statewide offices, such as Governor / Lt. Gov., select “View Map” and click on Douglas and Sarpy Counties.|
|5.||↑||Since Nebraska’s state legislators appear on ballots as “NON-PARTISAN” and since it’s difficult to know how many voters were aware of the candidate’s party affiliation, it’s also difficult to draw any conclusions about results in legislative races. I wish I could say that many of the Republican legislative candidates within Congressional District 2 campaigned so clearly on limited government principles that even without the ballot designation, voters would have clearly known their party, but, I don’t know and suspect not, based on pre-election research. For the record, however, out of the 10 state legislative districts on the ballot in District 2, all but one (an incumbent) saw Republicans elected. And one of those wins constitutes a change for the district from Democratic to Republican.|