The 2014 Republican wave grew to +9 in the Senate over the weekend, as Senator Mary Landrieu was crushed by Republican Bill Cassidy in the runoff election. Cassidy won by 56-44, a result that would suggest things went pretty much as predicted on Election Night: the other Republican candidate in the general race, Rob Maness, endorsed Cassidy in the runoff, and his supporters mostly switched to Cassidy. According to some post-election notes from the Associated Press, Landrieu’s overall turnout flagged quite a bit from the general election, while some Maness voters sat the runoff out:
Cassidy won 49 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes. Six years ago, when Landrieu defeated Republican John Kennedy without a runoff, the Democratic senator carried 38 parishes.
Turnout was down from the primary, but that appeared to hurt Landrieu more across the board. Her vote total went down by 58,298 votes. Cassidy’s went up by 109,282.
Cassidy fell 93,274 votes short of the combined total that he and third-place primary finisher Rob Maness, a tea party Republican, got in the primary. That suggests some drop off in enthusiasm among arch-conservatives who never fully embraced Cassidy ? Maness got 202,556 votes in November ? but it didn’t affect the final outcome.
Landrieu has always depended heavily on her advantage in cities, but she couldn’t drive up her margins there enough to make up for the support she and her party have lost in small towns and rural precincts.
In the eight parishes that contain Louisiana’s largest municipalities, Landrieu managed an 18,568-vote advantage over Cassidy’s and Maness’s combined total in November. She managed only to widen the gap to 21,037 on Saturday. Both figures would have been steep deficits if not for Orleans Parish, Landrieu’s hometown and still a principal source of African-American and white liberal votes for Louisiana Democrats.
Cassidy managed to tighten the margin in other urban parishes. He lost his home parish of East Baton Rouge by 7,130 votes. But that shaved off almost 500 votes from Landrieu’s advantage over Cassidy and Maness in the primary. Landrieu again won Orleans Parish by an overwhelming margin. But Cassidy closed the gap by more than 5,000 votes.
Landrieu got smashed hard enough to erase her from the mainstream media; none of the Big Three networks has a story about her loss on their main Web page as of Monday morning, even though a lot of people outside Louisiana would expect to see news and analysis of the event as they leave their weekend revels behind and return to the news cycle. It looks like the Democrat media doesn’t want to do any hard thinking about her loss right now.
The reasons are obvious enough, from a poorly-run campaign littered with gaffes that alienated her from voters, to the general unpopularity of Democrats and President Obama in this election cycle, to the one reason Democrats and their media friends refuse to discuss openly: ObamaCare. With Landrieu’s defeat, half of the senators who voted for ObamaCare are gone now. Democrat Party dogma, which is of course reflected in their media organs, is adamant that ObamaCare isn’t a major political issue any more – it’s a story they plan to will into existence by repeating it over and over again, seeking to marginalize and isolate voters who are still angry about the failures of the law, and the endless lies peddled to secure its passage. One reason the Republican wave of 2014 came as such a huge surprise to the media was that Democrat mouthpieces spent all year assuring their newsroom buddies that ObamaCare was no longer a major liability for the Party.
According to CNN’s account of Landrieu’s concession speech, she was still peddling that line even as the flaming wreckage of her campaign sank beneath the waves:
Once seen as Democrats’ strongest incumbent, Landrieu ended up such a long-shot in her runoff with Cassidy that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee cut its investment in the state, a move that Landrieu decried as leaving “a soldier on the field.”
In her concession speech, Landrieu touted her own “record of courage, honesty and integrity and delivering for the state when it mattered the most.”
The senator also said she didn’t regret her vote for Obamacare, which the GOP used to attack her and every other vulnerable Democratic senator this cycle.
“This is something to be proud of, and I’m glad we fought for it,” she said, touting some of the benefits of the law.
“Shake it Off,” Taylor Swift’s pop anthem to moving past defeat and ignoring critics, played as Landrieu hugged the staff and family members gathered on the stage.
And tears could be seen throughout the crowd as the event wound down on Saturday night.
You didn’t “fight” for ObamaCare, ex-Senator Landrieu. You and your party stole it. You lied to the American people on matters large and small, using fraud, deceit, and backroom payoffs to ram a poorly-designed, half-written bill none of you even bothered to read through Congress in the dead of night. You’re arrogantly refusing to hear what the electorate is clearly saying about ObamaCare. They’ve never liked it much, but all of their “wait and see how it works out” indulgence drained away after the program actually went into effect, its arrival heralded by the billion-dollar fireworks of an exploding website.
Before the conventional wisdom of Landrieu as a hapless zombie shuffling through both general and runoff elections she could never have won has a chance to quicken, let’s remember that going into this election cycle she was, as CNN puts it, “the Democrats’ strongest incumbent,” reinforced by the advantages of incumbency, a solid personal track record of past political success, and a popular family name (her father is the former mayor of New Orleans, her brother the current mayor.) Her Senate seat hasn’t gone to a Republican in over 130 years.
And yet, she only survived the general election because of Maness, and not even her Party’s cheerleading squad made much pretense that she could prevail in the runoff. The Hill notes that some Democrat insiders are furious that party leadership abandoned her after the general election, but it’s really not surprising. Not only was her goose cooked in the polls, but her efforts to distance herself from the left-wing loons who run the Party were irksome to the loons. Her last-ditch effort to stay in office involved picking a showy fight with President Obama over the Keystone XL pipeline, a bit of theater in which she essentially called Obama a madcap extremist for holding the project up. The failure of this effort will only make it harder for the remaining Democrat “moderates” to run against their Party’s extremism in 2016. And it still wasn’t good enough to keep Landrieu in the Senate.
CNN opines that Landrieu “was never able to effectively localize the race and distance herself from the president, while Republicans tied her to him at every opportunity.” If Republicans don’t screw up their moment in power – a distinct possibility which the leadership seems to be working on already, with its budget surrender to the defeated Democrats – the inability to localize races will be brutal for Democrats in ’16. The national mood is trending away from managerial liberalism, suffocating Big Government, and the elite Ruling Class. Just about every media analysis of the Louisiana runoff expresses incredulity that Cassidy was out-of-state during the final weekend; CNN reports he was “taking a professional development course at the hospital where he works” on Election Day. People admire that. They’ve had enough of regal dynasties and arrogant elites. Cassidy made that point in his victory speech, as did Senator David Vitter, who introduced him:
There’s been some post-election sniggering from conservative pundits about liberals claiming, just one election ago, that the GOP was on its way to becoming a “regional party” without national appeal. I would counsel against falling prey to the same hubris, but it does appear that the Democrats’ appeal is growing rather selective: they have nothing to say to anyone who isn’t part of a big-city blue-state political machine. Their best bet for 2016 is to intimidate Republicans out of making that point to voters and capitalizing on the Democrats’ disdain for middle-class taxpayers and opportunity-seeking entrepreneurs. If Cassidy’s victory speech channeled the authentic voice of the Republican Party for the next two yeas, Democrats are in deep, deep trouble.
Also in deep trouble, as Senator Rand Paul impishly reminds us: a certain 2016 presidential contender who backed a long string of losers in 2014.
??? Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) December 7, 2014