A favorite trick of Republican pundits and hacks after President Obama’s election (in 2008 and 2012) is to discredit him as illegitimate, or lacking a mandate. In 2008, they blamed ACORN. This year, they’re already blaming Superstorm Sandy, claiming that it moved the polls by 4-5 points in the last few weeks, despite actual poll numbers showing Romney’s “momentum” stopped on October 14. The facts, though difficult for conservatives to swallow, are that a clear majority of the American people voted for Barack Obama to be re-elected.
But you know who actually doesn’t have a mandate? Rick Snyder, and Michigan’s House Republicans. They’ll retain their majority, with 59 seats to Democrats’ 51. And headlines are already condemning Democrats for “squandering money” on this race or that race. But the facts are clear:
- Bill Ballenger, former Republican elected official, predicted Republicans would hold 52 seats, Democrats would claim 44, and 14 “toss-ups.”
- Ed Sarpolus, Democratic strategist and pollster, said Monday that the best case scenario for Democrats would be 50-52 seats. Again, they ended up with 51.
- The Republicans lost 5 seats – that’s the most for a first-term Michigan governor since 1984, and second most since 1964, when Republicans under Gov. Romney lost 21 seats.
- Republicans went on offense in 6 districts where Democrats had an incumbent, or advantage on paper: 21, 25, 50, 62, 67, and 109. All were bad losses – so by Bill Ballenger’s logic, the money given to those candidates was “squandered.”
- In the two seats where Democrats went on offense, Republicans dumped more than half a million dollars to protect the Speaker of the House and relatively unknown incumbent Bruce Rendon, from Lake City. This is presumably money that could have been used to shore up Republican incumbents who lost.
- Mark Ouimet lost by 3,000 votes in the 52nd District. Ouimet had spent his term faithfully pushing Gov. Snyder’s agenda as chair of the committee on Local, Intergovernmental & Regional Affairs. But in a referendum on Snyder’s agenda in his home of Washtenaw County, voters supported the Democratic candidate.
- In a seat that hadn’t been held by Democrats since the 1970s, Theresa Abed defeated the incumbent Deb Shaughnessy by nearly 3,000 votes. This was despite Shaughnessy flooding the airwaves with misleading ads about Abed’s career as an Eaton County commissioner.
- According to Capitol news service MIRS, the House was less than 3,000 votes over four races from Democrats reaching 55 seats, which would’ve forced a split for control of the House. 3,000 votes, over 4.5 million cast statewide, and this despite over $15 million spent on TV ads attacking President Obama in the last year.
Despite the post-election spin, no one really thought that Democrats had a realistic shot at retaking a majority in the House.
We can only hope that Republicans, left with control of Lansing for two more years, will reassess their priorities and actually work on growing an economy that works for middle-class families, not just their corporate donors.