Rejoice! The political ads are over! (Except in Louisiana. Our prayers are with the citizens of that state who have to deal with more ads as the Senate election there heads to a December runoff). Just as quickly as it came, Election 2014 is now history. And in many ways, this election year made quite a bit of history.
So who were the winners? The losers? How will the new Congress work with President Obama over his last two years, if at all? And how does this all affect the 2016 presidential race? We’ll attempt to answer all of these questions over the next few days with a series of “Election 2014 Wrap Up” posts.
First up in the series- the winners from Nov. 4. Drum roll please.
Winner #1) Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ)
No, Gov. Christie didn’t actually win an election for himself in 2014. But as chairman of the Republican Governors Association (RGA), the two-term New Jersey governor definitely had a successful night. In states where Christie campaigned significantly for Republican incumbent governors or challengers, the only significant losses Christie suffered were in New Hampshire (Maggie Hassan held onto the governorship there) and Connecticut (where Gov. Malloy is the apparent winner after a long night of vote counting). Republicans were able to flip three states previously held by Democrats (Asa Hutchinson in Arkansas, Bruce Rauner in Illinois, and Charles Baker in Massachusetts). And out of the 19 Republican governors up for re-election across the country, 17 held onto their seats. The only losses were in Pennsylvania (where Tom Wolf (D) upset incumbent Tom Corbett) and Alaska (incumbent Sean Parnell lost to Bill Walker, an independent).
So not only did Christie help other Republicans get elected, he also has set himself up to be a strong contender in the 2016 presidential race should he decide to run. He won a second-term in a typically blue state in 2013, has shown he can raise funds and votes in various locations across the country, and has made several important alliances with Republicans across the country. He had a lot of support from outside conservative organizations, political action committee (PAC) heads, and politicians across the country in 2012 when he ultimately decided he was not ready to run for president. That could be a different story in 2016.
Winner #2) Senate Republicans
This is an obvious one. Republicans running for the U.S. Senate in were able to officially flip seven seats, giving the GOP 52-45 edge as of this writing. Republicans could actually end up gaining at least three more seats, as the Alaska Senate race has yet to be officially called (the NY Times has incumbent Democrat Mark Begich trailing Republican Dan Sullivan by 4%) and Louisiana’s Senate race will be decided in a runoff next month between Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) and Bill Cassidy (R). A third seat could be gained if Maine’s independent senator, Angus King, decided to caucus with the Republicans now that the party is in the majority. King had previously caucused with the Democrats. So by the time the new Congress takes office in late January, Republicans could hold a ten-seat majority in the Senate to go along with a majority of at least 65 in the House (some 14 races have still yet to officially be decided in the House, according to the NY Times).
Winner #3) Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Sen. McConnell came out on top after a often negative race for his Kentucky Senate seat against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. As long as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) doesn’t throw a wrench a into those plans, expect McConnell to become the Senate majority leader for the first time after spending eight years as the minority leader. After spending that time complaining of inaction on the part of Democrats in the White House and Senate (specifically now-former majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada), McConnell will get to dictate what issues make it to the Senate floor and now has more leverage in negotiations with President Obama on a wide array of those issues (i.e. immigration reform, tax reform, etc.)
Tomorrow, we will look at the losers of Election 2014, followed soon after by what issues the new Congress could take up in 2015.