Not exactly. However, the mixed results of the 2010 midterm elections do raise certain questions about the effectiveness of the conservative message. The results, both on a national and local level, seemed convoluted. Both promising victories and puzzling defeats plagued the already unpredictable and peculiar election night. And despite the narrow wins, surprising losses, and mixed emotions of political pundits, conservatives have reason to trudge forward with cautious optimism.
On the local level things were tense at best and disappointing at worst. Nationally, the tide of right wing prevalence was on display as Republicans gained an early control of the House, and made sufficient gains in the Senate. With a 60 seat landslide in the previously Democrat controlled House of Representatives, it seems odd that Colorado conservatives would feel deflated after election night.
Colorado Governor’s race:
It was well known that Tom Tancredo had little chance of pulling off a victorious campaign with the stubborn and delusional Dan Maes on the ballot. But the low numbers for the Republican-turned-third-party-candidate stunned even the more pessimistic of conservative pundits. While the polls had put Tancredo within only a few points of Democrat John Hickenlooper, the numbers that crept in Tuesday night showed an obvious disconnect between the experts and the voters. Tancredo polled in the mid 40’s in the Real Clear Politics average, yet managed little over 35 percent all night long. Hickenlooper, for much of the evening, even managed to hang on to a majority; indicating that it was not a split of the right wing vote, but a fundamental rejection of right wing policy. As the hours crept by, Hickenlooper’s numbers dwindled, but the gap between him and Tancredo proved too great for any hope.
The real question is why the polls proved to be so inaccurate. Aside from low enthusiasm from the Republican base in this particular race, a seemingly obvious answer would be that many people told the pollsters one thing – and voted differently. Perhaps many, once faced with the ballot, were hesitant to place a vote for a rather unpalatable statewide candidate such as Tancredo. Tancredo, for all his wisdom, is not a winnable candidate for a statewide election in even the best of years; let alone a year that the race for governor eroded into such chaos.
We knew this was going to be a tight race from the beginning. Jane Norton did little to excite the base, and Ken Buck was just short of being a public-relations nightmare. But Buck proved his value through open dialog and an ultimately appealing message. It was interesting to see how his numbers grew in conjunction with Bennet’s dwindling lead as more precincts reported their results. When El Paso County began reporting their numbers, Buck had managed to close the spread to only a few points. As the heavily conservative districts reported their votes, the candidates soon found themselves on opposite ends of where the night had started.
This race, more so than the race for governor, can be seen as a referendum on the Democrat agenda. While the Governor’s race was plagued with drama, confusion and unpredictable turns, this race was a fairly straightforward representation of liberalism vs. conservatism.
Amendment 63 should have passed with flying colors. Instead, it was consistently behind as the votes were counted. Amendment 63, if passed, would have freed Colorado citizens from the federally imposed health insurance mandate, and promoted healthcare choice in Colorado. It would have created the conditions for Colorado to become a sanctuary from Obamacare, and given Coloradoans the ability to freely choice their preferred method of healthcare coverage.
Alas, it seemed doomed as Tuesday night marched on. In part blame can be put on the measure itself. Both the language and the description, somehow, seemed at odds with the intent of the amendment. Even having been made aware of the purpose, many people felt confused by the description on the ballot (It almost sounded as if it was in support of Obamacare). However, it seems weak and disingenuous to blame its failure entirely on voter confusion.
Another probable contributing factor to its defeat was the over-reaching and wildly unpopular “ugly three” ballot issues, 60, 61 and proposition 101. These three were expected to go down in flames. However, with such little campaigning and even less media attention, it seems reasonable to assume that Amendment 63 received many automatic “no” votes simply because it was one of only a few otherwise unpopular amendments. Because the ugly three were enthusiastically defeated, 63 may very well have found itself in the path of voter rejection. The other amendments, in short, might have pulled 63 down with them.
The Colorado Supreme Court Justices:
Despite the noble efforts of Clear the Bench Colorado, and conservative groups across the state, all three unjust justices of the Colorado Supreme Court kept their jobs. The retention system (the right for citizens to vote to retain or dismiss Supreme Court Justices every decade) has proven to be inadequate. Despite the clear contempt for our constitution, outrageous activism, and obvious bias, judges have proven yet again to be an oligarchy entrenched in our government. If efforts to remove the justices in a year so dedicated to reform fails, there is clearly a systematic failure.
Perhaps term limits, legislative reviews, or more objective voter guides could quell the perpetual power of judges in the future. Thomas Jefferson warned us about the power of the judicial branch. It seems these dangers are more difficult to evade than previously thought.
The Good News:
But not all is lost. Tipton for Congress, predictable victories for Coffman and Lamborn, and even an upset in the race for Secretary of State illustrates that conservative ideology is not banished for eternity to a minority status. Republicans gained enough seats in the US House of Representatives to place this year in the same historical stature as 1938, or 1994. A narrow win in Pennsylvania (Yes. . . The Liberal haven of Pennsylvania) demonstrates a nationwide rejection of progressive advancement. The simple fact that “safe” candidates such as the liberal Senator (not ma’am) Barbara Boxer had to fight for their seat should give Conservatives cautious optimism and promise.
So. . . A Conservative Failure? Certainly not by measure of the National results. A Conservative victory? Perhaps it is too soon to claim victory. But it is certainly a step in the right direction and a resounding referendum on the liberal mantra of Obama-inspired “change.” So why the trepidation on the part of Conservatives around the state and the nation to celebrate? Our victory was hard fought and uncertain. . . Progressive ideals and liberal agendas have not been flatly rejected. While the right wing victories may give pause to the leftward march of this nation, there is a great deal of commitment and work still needed by the defenders of individual liberty and freedom. The elections are over. . . But the promotion of traditional, Constitutional conservatism is not. Take refuge in our victories, and take knowledge from our losses. The promotion of freedom scarcely wins in such short order.