Notes From 2014's Election Night

Voting in South Minneapolis

Minnesota's DFL stood strong against a storm of GOP victories that swept the country Tuesday. There will be no change in the levels of blue and red that our state will send to Washington D.C., with only a personnel shift: Tom Emmer rather than Michelle Bachmann; but as the proverb goes, the devil is in the details: and this election had plenty of details.  
McFadden Fails to Pull within Single Digits
One of the least surprising results of the night was the decisive defeat of Mike McFadden (GOP) by incumbent Senator Al Franken (DFL). McFadden's cringe-worthy debate performances didn't help his late start due to a messy primary (which worked against Republican candidates for both Senate and Governor). Additionally, all portents indicate Senator Franken will likely refrain from playing with traffic cones in this term. He can now laugh off the "scandal" for good.  
Dayton Holds On
Not since Harold LeVander topped Karl Rolvaag in 1966 has a Minnesota Governor seeking a second term been defeated; that streak stayed alive Tuesday as Mark Dayton (DFL) rode a 5% lead to victory. Jeff Johnson, with the first heavy dose of emotion in his voice yet seen in his campaign, started his concession speech with a return to his identity as a father (which was a major theme in his interview with us at Minnesota Connected):
"I tell my boys, frequently, that sometimes no matter how badly you want something, it's not part of God's plan; and that's kind of where we are tonight."
As for Independence Party candidate Hannah Nicollet, she failed to pick up more than 3% of the vote forcing Minnesota's third party to lose its Major Party status (it needed 5%) when election results become final. Her poor polling and fundraising efforts along with an endorsement for the Republican ticket by her popular predecessor Tom Horner combined to keep her out of several debates and into a very distant third place.  
Let's Get Ready to Rumble!
The GOP may have lost all cardinal battles for the state as a whole (from Attorney General to Senator), but their ground game scored a rather nifty consolation prize: the State House. Tuesday's voters punched their tickets to a second round of divided government in the last half decade; a quarter of the electorate hopped parties mid-ballot when it came to state legislature vs. Governor/Senator. Though Governor Dayton offered half an olive branch to the new, GOP-controlled House on Wednesday, a rather candid answer in the debate at Hamline University gives some perspective on the coming storm:
"You look at the situation in Washington over the last few years with the Republican House and Democratic President and Senate. The Republican House being obstructionists and blocking everything. That's what we'd have here if the Minnesota House turns Republican and if I'm reelected governor. If commissioner Johnson becomes governor it becomes a different scenario, but it still would be a divide and a gridlock."
The electorate might just wish the two parties could trade their respective control of the House and the governorship by the end of the two year term that awaits. [caption id="attachment_356775" align="aligncenter" width="570"]Jeff Johnson Explaining His Views Jeff Johnson talked about a divided government when Minnesota Connected interviewed him.[/caption]  
As for the Other States: the Start of a New Era for Republicans?
Nationally, the Midterm Election of 2014 might be remembered for being the year that women elected for congressional positions first numbered in the triple digits, it might be remembered for bringing forth the first African-American Senator from the South since Reconstruction (Tim Scott), but in the short-term, it will be remembered as the moment the Democratic super-majority (or nearly so) of 2008 was completely erased. The GOP now controls more seats in the House of Representatives than it has had in over 60 years; President Obama has seen one of the largest losses in congressional power to any president's own party in history (keep in mind he did start out with an enormous and essentially unsustainable majority) while in office. The Republicans now control the U.S. Senate (which coincidentally means our two Minnesota Senators just lost a significant chunk of influence). A runoff election and a couple recounts will keep us from knowing the exact magnitude of Tuesday's Republican gains for now, but regardless observers should expect quite a bit of legislation churning off the hill in the coming year.  
Two Year Predictions for Minnesota's Government
  • At least one government shutdown and showdown.
  • No state funding for Southwest Light-Rail, little political push to get it through many of its legal hurdles. It might just not happen at all.
  • No change on medical marijuana or Sunday liquor sales.
  • Small, mostly cosmetic tax cuts.
Two Year Predictions for National Issues
  • That legendary border-fence with Mexico that the GOP so badly desires will come to fruition.
  • The hated thing, the elephant's nightmare, the bitter law pushed through without a single Republican vote: "Obamacare" will be slowly and meticulously de-funded and undermined in every way feasible.
  • Keystone Pipeline will move forward.
  • Ebola will fail to kill us all.
    Pictures by: Erik Bergs -- Matthew Deery    

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