- - Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Pollsters everywhere are wiping egg from their faces, and a lot of the egg is scrambled. They predicted Republicans would have a good night, but their numbers were about as accurate as the television weatherman’s 10-day forecast.

Experts peering into their crystal balls suggested that Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican, should start packing his bags and boxes of stuff for the long trip home. He won by 11 points. The predicted nail-biters in Kentucky and Arkansas were double-digit Republican blowouts. Sen. Mark R. Warner was supposed to clobber the Republican challenger in Virginia, Ed Gillespie, by at least 7 points. The race ended with Mr. Warner holding a bare edge, but that was only the first count. A protracted recount looks likely, and this time the Republican establishment should quit treating Mr. Gillespie, who ran when nobody else would, like an inconvenient orphan.

Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown was so confident in his 10-point advantage in Maryland that he invited the president and the first lady to take victory laps with him, one of the few Democrats willing to be seen with him. It turned out to be an omen of bad things to come. The Democrats couldn’t even fill a high school gym for the speeches, and many of the few who showed up quickly grew bored and walked out early. Larry Hogan, the Republican who was measured early for the shroud, won by 5 points.

After eight years of Gov. Martin O’Malley and his high-tax, anti-business agenda, the public was ready for a change. Mr. Hogan created his own think tank, Change Maryland, to come up with the ideas that would chart a different course for the state. That turned out to be precisely what voters were looking for. Mr. Hogan remained disciplined throughout the campaign, sticking to the simple and direct message of lower taxes and less regulation to create jobs. His positive agenda turned out voters in droves.

The Senate race in Virginia generated an enthusiasm that few expected. Big donors on the Republican side closed their checkbooks for a race that conventional wisdom said couldn’t be won. Despite a 2-to-1 fundraising disadvantage, Mr. Gillespie would have delivered his victory speech early Tuesday night but for the spoiler, Robert Sarvis, the Libertarian candidate who took 2.5 percent of the vote.

Mr. Gillespie, with a concrete proposal to provide a workable alternative to Obamacare, inspired support. He was just the candidate that Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, had been working behind the scenes to cultivate. He knew that just saying “I’m not Obama” is not enough to win (though it helps).

Billionaire liberals like Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer airdropped millions into the battleground states, but this election was not for sale to the left. Freedom Partners, the free-market super PAC, countered the left’s outside efforts with a $25 million advertising campaign in several battleground races that forced Democrats to spend more than expected, earlier in the campaign than expected. Americans for Prosperity, a network of conservative activists, contributed additional grass-roots support.

The failures of Obamacare and Obamanomics are there for all to see. The public feels the pain of the scarcity of jobs and the anemic economic growth. When red-state Democrats tried to pass as conservatives, voters saw through the fakery. Voters were ready for an alternative, and the Republicans had it. That’s why Mr. McConnell will be Senate majority leader in January, why one-party Democratic states such as Maryland, Massachusetts and Illinois will have Republicans in the governor’s office, and why House Speaker John A. Boehner will enjoy the biggest Republican majority since the 1920s.

But there’s a caution in the happy news. Angry voters can turn their ire on Republicans if the Grand Old Party settles into comfortable lassitude, and they will. Voters have no permanent friends, only permanent interests.

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