Top 10 Election Bright Spots
1. House still in GOP hands
Republicans held onto most of the gains made in the 2010 midterm elections, enabling conservatives to keep Obama from imposing a radical agenda on the nation in his second term. House Speaker John Boehner signaled as much, saying on election night that Americans sent a clear message by keeping the House in GOP hands. “With this vote, the American people have also made clear that there is no mandate for raising tax rates,” Boehner said.
2. Popular vote still close
With a 50.5 percent to 48 percent popular vote deficit, Romney outperformed McCain’s percentage in 2008 by several points. America is still close to a 50-50 nation, at least keeping Republicans in the ball-game. After four more years of liberalism, it shouldn’t be hard to find more recruits to switch sides.
3. Ballot initiatives
Voters backed conservative-oriented ballot initiatives in states across the nation, denying race-based policies in Oklahoma, turning down benefits to illegal immigrants in Montana, rejecting assisted suicide in Massachusetts, defeating tax increase measures in Washington, Missouri, South Dakota and Arizona, and backing parental notification for abortions in Montana.
4. Union setback
Voters in Michigan rejected a ballot initiative that would have enshrined collective-bargaining as a constitutional right for unions. The amendment would have blocked right-to-work laws, which declare union membership cannot be required as a condition for employment. Coming after recent defeats for public sector unions in Wisconsin, labor had hoped to use the Michigan measure to regain momentum.
5. Nebraska Senate pickup
The only Democratic Senate seat gained by Republicans was in Nebraska where state Sen. Deb Fischer defeated former senator and governor Bob Kerrey for the seat vacated by retiring Sen. Ben Nelson. While Nebraska should be a reliably red state, Fischer was a surprise winner in the GOP primary, defeating better-known candidates with the help of a Sarah Palin endorsement, and Kerrey was trying to make a political comeback after a decade out of office.
6. North Carolina governor
Former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory handily defeated Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, 55 percent to 43 percent, to become the first Republican governor in North Carolina in 24 years. With the Tar Heel State pickup, Republicans now control gubernatorial seats in 30 states, the highest number for either party in 12 years. North Carolina Republicans also made gains in Congress and took control of the state’s general assembly.
7. State legislature victories
Conservatives made significant advances on the state level, extending gains from the 2010 midterm elections. Republicans won back control of the state legislature in Wisconsin, won supermajorities in Tennessee, made gains in the Kansas legislature, and won control of the Arkansas state house for the first time since Reconstruction.
8. Rep. Pete Stark defeated
Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) was a victim of California’s new system of pitting the top two primary vote-getters as general election opponents regardless of party, losing to a fellow Democrat after 40 years in the House. Stark wielded power from his perch on the House Ways and Means Committee and was instrumental in crafting Obamacare. He was also a reliable liberal, belonging to the Congressional Progressive Caucus and was the first openly atheist member of Congress. He was among the more boorish members of the House, committing a lengthy list of gaffes and outrageous statements. Good riddance.
9. Sheriff Joe re-elected
Residents of Maricopa County, Ariz., declared what they thought about the Justice Department’s crusade against Joe Arpaio, voting the “Toughest Sheriff in America” to office for the sixth time. Arpaio, 80, handily defeated Phoenix police veteran Paul Penzone, who had strong support from the state’s Latino community which opposes Arpaio’s tough stance against illegal immigration.
10. Youth vote slippage
There is a glimmer of hope in how the nation’s youth voted. Voters aged 18 to 29 defied projections and turned out in waves equal to their support of Obama in 2008, and once again help to propel him into the White House. But look at the numbers. Whereas in 2008, Obama received 66 percent of the youth vote, in 2012 that had slipped to 60 percent—a hopeful sign that the nation’s youth are slowly catching on that the president’s policies will keep them jobless and burdened with debt.