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  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: May 2016

5 - The party, not the person


By the time the polls closed on November 4, 2014, hundreds of U.S. House candidates across the country had spent millions trying to persuade voters to send them to Washington. For months, they had sparred in debates, held rallies, hosted public forums, knocked on doors, marched in parades, shaken hands, and done everything they could to convince their fellow citizens that they were the best people to represent them. But to hear the voters tell it come Election Day, the midterms’ most important political figures weren't even on the ballot. The election was less about the candidates in their districts than it was about President Obama, his Democratic allies, and the Republican opposition in Washington.

Coming out of his polling place at a volunteer fire department, Powhatan County resident Mike Crist told a local reporter that he voted for Republican Randy Forbes in Virginia's 4th Congressional District race. The salesman's support of the seven-term incumbent, however, seemed to be more a statement about the Obama Administration's failed economic policies than anything else. “We need,” Crist said in a dig at the president's 2008 campaign slogan, “change that you can really jiggle in your pocket.”

In New York's 18th Congressional District, Ken Moore told the Poughkeepsie Journal that his vote was motivated by concerns about the leftward turn of the country's fiscal policies. Moore hoped Republican Nan Hayworth's conservatism would serve as a bulwark against the Democrats’ economic agenda – especially what he saw as likely “taxation and big government, none of which I am in favor of.”

And when Willy Hughes cast his ballot for Republican incumbent Blake Farenthold at King High School in Corpus Christi, Texas, he felt no need to be polite: “All I know is he's working to beat back most of the garbage that's going on in Washington,” Hughes told the Caller-Times.

Democratic voters were frustrated too, but the target of their anger was the GOP. “I want to get all those Republicans out of there,” Melvenia Myles said, explaining to the Miami Herald why she voted for Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and other local Democrats. Others were fed up with what they saw as the Republican Party's obstructionism.

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