Election 2014

Election 2014: Why the Republicans Swept the Midterms

Ed Kilgore
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 118
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  • Book Info
    Election 2014
    Book Description:

    The Republican party overwhelmingly carried the midterm elections of 2014, winning nearly every contested congressional and gubernatorial seat and taking the Senate after eight years of Democratic control. Many have characterized this sweep as a sign of a fundamental political shift toward the GOP. But acclaimed political commentator Ed Kilgore argues that the results of the midterm elections were a predictable outcome that was less an ideological watershed than the culmination of several long-term cyclical and historical trends.

    Election 2014strips down conflicting and biased political narratives to present an accessible account of how and why Republicans triumphed so decisively. Kilgore crunches electoral data and evaluates such structural factors as the economy, presidential approval ratings, and voter turnout patterns. Ultimately, this bracing analysis sheds light on the election's implications for the future direction of American politics.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-9166-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Chapter 1 The Fundamentals and the Narrative
    (pp. 1-16)

    The midterm elections of 2014 were probably the most widely examined and debated of their kind in American history, and not because they were necessarily “historic” or even remarkable. This cycle did, however, coincide with a sudden upsurge in interest in the science of election analysis, some coming from political scientists entering the mainstream conversation in increasing numbers and some from journalists applying statistical methods popularized in other fields, including sports. Add in a continuation of the recent growth in publicly available polling data and an atmosphere of partisan and ideological polarization that has inevitably intensified all arguments over politics,...

  5. Chapter 2 The Primaries
    (pp. 17-24)

    The consensus that Tea Party candidates cost Republicans the Senate in 2010 and 2012 heavily influenced media coverage of the 2014 GOP Senate primaries, which was treated as an extended (and ultimately successful) effort by the Republican establishment to hold off another round of unhappy upsets.

    Going into the cycle, there were distinctive, at least somewhat viable, Tea Party–oriented Senate candidates in Alaska (Joe Miller), Colorado (Ken Buck), Georgia (Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey, and Karen Handel), Iowa (Sam Clovis and Joni Ernst), Kansas (Milton Wolf), Kentucky (Matt Bevin), Nebraska (Ben Sasse), New Hampshire (Bob Smith), North Carolina (Greg Brannon...

  6. Chapter 3 The General Election Campaign
    (pp. 25-64)

    As the general election campaign began to unfold in the early summer, the president’s approval ratings in key Senate states were low: 38 percent in Arkansas, 45 percent in Colorado, 41 percent in Georgia, 40 percent in Iowa, 35 percent in Kansas, 33 percent in Kentucky, 35 percent in Louisiana, 39 percent in New Hampshire, and 41 percent in North Carolina. At roughly the same time, Democratic Senate candidates were at 45 percent in Arkansas, 45 percent in Kentucky, 44 percent in Colorado, 40 percent in Georgia, 45 percent in Kentucky, 41 percent in Louisiana, 49 percent in New Hampshire,...

  7. Chapter 4 The Results
    (pp. 65-76)

    Election Day is still central to the imaginations of political junkies everywhere, although pedants will invariably point out that the “day” is increasingly an illusion. Michael McDonald of the University of Florida estimated on November 2 that seventeen million ballots had already been cast and projected that a record-high 27.5 percent of total ballots would be cast before Election Day, with an even higher average in the highly competitive Senate battleground states where the national parties sought to bank an advantage via mobilization of early voting where possible.¹

    As is generally the case, Election Day was a mélange of frantic...

  8. Chapter 5 Implications for the Future
    (pp. 77-90)

    As previous chapters have indicated, we are not in an era where one election necessarily follows from the previous one.

    We’ve now seen three consecutive “swings” in turnout patterns and results that reinforce the “two electorates” hypothesis, suggesting a structural Republican advantage in midterms and a Democratic advantage in presidential elections. Since it emerged in 2008, the close alignment of the two parties with the segments of the electorate most likely (Republicans with their older white voter base) and least likely (Democrats with their younger and minority voter base) to participate in midterms, nobody’s “broken serve” yet. It could happen...

  9. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 91-92)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 93-106)