What Voters Said on Tuesday

The voters have spoken.

Nationally, Democrats were swept out of the House in record numbers. Republicans easily seized control of that legislative body and came close to doing the same in the Senate. Does that mean Americans want to be governed now by the Republicans? No, not according to national pollster Scott Rasmussen. In his Monday Wall Street Journal column, Rasmussen noted that voters were voting against the party in power, not for its opponent.

He warned, “In this environment, it would be wise for all Republicans to remember that their team didn’t win, the other team lost.”

In his recent polls, Rasmussen notes that less than one-third of likely voters thought the country was on the right path. He found that a sizable majority of Americans think spending cuts, not higher taxes, are the solution to their own state’s budget problems. And, they overwhelmingly anticipate that the federal government will have to dramatically cut spending, as France and Great Britain are doing now.

If anything, the big winner on Tuesday might have been the Tea Party, a relatively new phenomenon sprung from concern over out-of-control government spending and a perceived disdain by many in power for Constitutional principles and limited government. Tea Party members might have voted largely Republican, but they were primarily voting to restore fiscal discipline and limited government. If the Republicans don’t follow up their words with actions, we shouldn’t be surprised if the Tea Party punishes them next time around.

These are all healthy signs nationally. Here in Oregon our congressional delegation didn’t change, but a number of big-government state legislators were replaced by fiscal conservatives. The apparent governor-elect, John Kitzhaber, will have a much restrained legislature to deal with; again a healthy sign here. Cascade will now redouble our efforts to help the new Governor and legislators understand how they can reduce the size of government while still performing the core functions of government. Our recent budget report, “Facing Reality,” will be a key part of this effort.

Scott Rasmussen’s WSJ column was entitled “A Vote Against Dems, Not for the GOP.” The last line mirrored the subtitle, which was:

“Voters don’t want to be governed from the left, right or center. They want Washington to recognize that Americans want to govern themselves.”

This is the true spirit of America. We can govern ourselves: in our personal lives; in our business lives; and, eventually, in our political lives as well. Hopefully, that trend began in earnest on Tuesday.


Steve Buckstein is Senior Policy Analyst and Founder at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research center.

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