A Rudderless Campaign Promises 2 More Years of Trench Warfare

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Jonathan Cohn on last night’s election results:

The silver lining for Democrats is that Republicans didn’t run on a governing agenda. They had no Contract With America, as they did in 1994, and they did not rally behind a single legislative cause, as they did in 2010. In fact, the one message on issues that came through loud and clear—thanks to state-based initiatives—was that people like a higher minimum wage, something that Republicans oppose. As my colleague Danny Vinik has noted, Republicans can’t honestly claim a mandate tonight. They can’t even claim a mandate to undo Obamacare, the program that they claim to hate most.

No, all Republicans did was say they were opposed to the president . On Tuesday night, that was enough to win.

That’s true. If Democrats were unable to unite behind a single, populist message—and it’s certainly fair to say they didn’t—neither did Republicans. Their campaigns were a mishmash of Ebola and immigration and Obummer and terrorism and vague discontent with a still sputtering economy. There were no unifying themes, and no big-ticket promises for legislative action.

Republicans will have more leverage to make modest inroads on their agenda. But they aren’t going to repeal Obamacare, they aren’t going to cut taxes on the rich, and they aren’t going to outlaw abortion. There’s simply nowhere near enough popular support for those things, and they did nothing during the campaign to change that. Roughly speaking, we have another two years of trench warfare ahead of us. The public may think it voted against that, but it didn’t.

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