Kansas Proves 2012 Was The Outlier, Not The Trend

Joe Herring Independent Policy Analyst
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As is often the case in mid-term election cycles, larger trends are punctuated with interesting outliers and the significance of those outliers is magnified by those who were on the losing side of the larger trend. So it is in 2014.

Independent candidate for the U.S. Senate in Kansas, Greg Orman, had been polling fairly evenly with the incumbent Senator Pat Roberts, despite his central virtue appearing to be only that he is not Pat Roberts.

Kansas isn’t particularly intricate politically. The deeply urban population of Kansas City lies primarily on the Missouri side of the river, with the Kansas side home to businesses and bedroom communities that are reliably Republican. The other population centers of Wichita and Topeka haven’t really reached the point of inner-city blueness that characterizes many of the blue urban dots in otherwise red states.

Couple that with the bright red agricultural counties that make up the majority of the state and you’ll understand why Kansas hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate in 80 years. But Orman isn’t a Democrat per se.

He took the place of a Democrat who bowed out of the race when it became clear that Orman had the better route to victory over Roberts. Of course, it is instructive to note that a Democrat was willing to bail in order to bolster Orman’s chances; certainly not a move one would expect a Democrat to make on behalf of a conservative-leaning candidate.

In the end, Orman couldn’t find enough true blue Democrat support in the ag counties to knock off Roberts, and only remained competitive by tapping into a deep vein of dissatisfaction with Washington D.C. insider politics, a form of politics closely associated with the freshly reelected Pat Roberts.

So what is the lesson in Kansas? It ought to be that grassroots efforts like the campaign of Milton Wolf (who gave Roberts a run for his money in the Republican Primary) are likely to become the norm, not the exception in intraparty politics.

Incumbent Republicans remained safe this time around due to the dreadful nature of the alternative – more Obamanomics and a tightening government grip around the throat of individual citizens.

Of course, the establishment Republican leadership will likely take this win as a mandate for their own feckless and mewling style of governance, pursuing gag-inducing policies such as comprehensive immigration reform and the “tweaking” of Obamacare.

These will be two years of high-stakes maneuvering during which Republicans must earn back the respect of the people who put them there. While we may not be able to convince enough Democrats in the Senate to back our play against a presidential veto, or to break a filibuster, failing to make the attempt will be seen as surrender to Obama.

Two years of treading water will not ease the anger today’s electorate feels toward Washington. Two years of playing to 2016 will only weaken their position when the decisions are made as to who will bear our standard and who will shine his/her shoes.

You see, despite the ridiculous media assertions that the American people just want Congress to “get something done,” the reality is the American people want Congress to get the right things done.

They want Obamacare rolled back and replaced with common sense reforms that don’t wildly distort the market for both insurance and health care. They want the EPA reined in and an immediate halt brought to their junk-science based regulations.

The people who rejected Greg Orman, Kay Hagen, Mark Udall and likely Mary Landrieu, want their government to quit trying to be their friend, parent, lover, doctor, and scold and instead return to their proper functions. If these reelected Republicans fail to use their majority to accomplish these tasks (or at least make a sincere effort!) then their majority will likely be numbered among the casualties of 2016.

2012 appears to have been the outlier in the larger trend presaged by 2010. The Democrats and the media have sought to magnify it beyond its actual meaning, but the American people have once again chosen to believe their own eyes and experiences over the ones force-fed them by the left.