The final major contest of the 2014 midterm election ended the same way so many others had on election night: With a resounding Republican victory.
In a runoff election last night, Republican challenger Bill Cassidy easily defeated (57-43) multi-term incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu, a Democrat. Democratic candidates Edwin Edwards and Jamie Mayo further lost their special House elections.
The result is an historic defeat for Democrats. Landrieu’s Senate seat has been in the hands of Democrats for 132 years. Politico reports Landrieu, now unemployed, was the last Democratic statewide officeholder in the Deep South. Democrats are left without a single governorship or US Senator across nine states. There are now as many black Republican senators as Democratic senators of any skin color in the region.
But Republican victories in 2014 were not limited to the south, of course, complicating the Democratic narrative of racial hatred driving Republican success. Republican candidates won gubernatorial races in deep blue states like Maryland, Massachusetts, and Illinois. Senatorial candidates were victorious in swing states like Colorado, Iowa, and South Dakota.
When they return to Washington in January, Republicans will bring with them control of 9 additional Senate seats and a majority of 54 in the upper chamber. In the House, Republicans will enjoy their largest majority since 1947 (possibly since 1929 pending another race). The deep blue home state of the incumbent Democratic president will be in Republican hands.
Now, it would seem, would be the time for the Democratic Party to take a long, hard look at itself and how it so quickly fell from grace. Massively unpopular signature initiatives (ObamaCare), foreign policy disasters (too many to name), a lawless administration, seemingly a new scandal every week, loyalty to incompetent and corrupt officials, an energy policy that chases green unicorns at the expense of American workers and industry…the list goes on.
No electoral victory or defeat is permanent. But a loss of power can last a very long time, as both parties have seen before. Whether 2016 is the year Democrats turn things around, or simply lose their last hold on American government, will be determined by how they respond to the historic blow they were just delivered by American voters. They can change course and acknowledge their disconnect from Middle America, or continue to pay the political price.