The Republicans’ net pickup of at least eight seats in the U.S Senate, along with their seizure of governorships in resident blue states like Massachusetts and Illinois, has sparked a mass of excited, scared and pessimistic responses from American citizens. Some are calling it the “Republican takeover,” pointing to an upheaval of Democratic power in the federal government. But do the recent Republican wins in Congress really show the weaknesses of the Democratic party, or do they rather simply reveal what we already knew about President Obama’s lack of popularity?
According to an NBC poll, only 27% of Americans have a favorable view of the Republican Party favorably, while 47% view it unfavorably. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, is seen much more approvingly, with 43% maintaining a positive image of the party and only 36% with a negative view. Many Americans also tend to lean towards the left when it comes to social and economic policy as well, with the majority of Americans now supporting marijuana legalization and gay marriage.
Thus, it’s not really that there has been a revolutionary ‘upheaval’ of the Democratic Party, but rather that even though the Majority of Americans still hold the Democratic party in favor, they are tired of President Obama.
Inevitably, this has something to do with Obama’s reputation as being “wishy-washy” and “spineless” when it comes to his policy implementation. Take the 2010 midterm elections, for example; when Obama saw the democrats losing their majority in the house, he immediately negotiated a deal with Republicans in congress to extend the Bush-era tax cuts —including tax cuts for the wealthy— something they had been pushing for all year. Now, nothing has changed. Obama has recently promised to work across party lines with Republicans in congress like Mitch McConnell who, previously, he was not too keen on working with.
Additionally, the American people have developed a profuse frustration with Obama’s growing list of broken promises, including his long record of deportations, failure to close Guantanamo Bay, preservation of the majority of Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy, and record of drone warfare in Pakistan and parts of the Middle East. These specific policies and actions taken (or not taken), and ultimately President Obama himelsf have left a distaste in the mouths of many Americans. It is this distaste that has driven many into the waiting arms of previously unpopular Republican candidates who continue to utilize Obama’s numerous failings to bolster their entire party, which is still actually vastly unpopular.
All in all, while the Democrats did not win the midterm elections, the Republicans cannot claim victory either; what was actually won this November was an overall distaste for both parties and the two party system as a whole, leaving a President and a Congress who remain ultimately deadlocked and unpopular to boot.