Last Tuesday’s elections proved what many had felt to be true for the past several months if not years: Americans are upset with the direction in which the country is headed, and they want something to change. With the GOP taking over the majority in the Senate and maintaining their majority in the House of Representatives, all eyes are on the Republican leaders to see how they handle this newfound power. This win for Republicans, on multiple levels, may also indicate the potential for a Republican win in the Presidential race in 2016.
One of the largest changes facing the new Congress is the changing of all the committee chairmen to Republican leaders. These leaders will face some challenges from 2016-hopefuls like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul, just to name a few from the Senate. These younger conservatives are pushing for bold plans regarding action on ObamaCare and taxes, just to name a few, yet those ideas might not be the best move for the Republican Party. Republican pollster David Winston is hoping that the GOP can take action on issues where the Republican base is comfortable and can syphon off Democratic votes to get bills passed. “I think the hope is that things move forward,” he said in an interview with Politico. “For a whole lot of reasons, there’s going to be a focus on jobs and the economy, and then after that there will be an assessment of what’s achievable and what’s not.”
With ObamaCare being a main issue driving voters to the polls this cycle, the question remains what the Republican Party intends to do about the health care law. Speaker John Boehner has been cited saying that the House “will move to repeal ObamaCare because it should be repealed.” However, the same article calls for Republicans to have a plan ready for proposal should they succeed in repealing ObamaCare. “Jim Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center added, ‘you need to not only say you’re against the ACA (Affordable Care Act), but you’re going to need to have a replacement plan to show people you have a better way of providing people with health insurance coverage.’”
Regardless of the results of Tuesday’s election, the Wall Street Journal cautions reading too much into a potential 2016 win. “Turnout by Democratic-friendly voting blocs, including minorities, young people and unmarried women, tends to drop off in midterm elections and surge in presidential election years.” The same article quotes former RNC chairman Haley Barbour, who feels that the 2014 elections are less about “the party’s prospects in 2016 and more about widespread discontent with the Democratic administration.” Barbour sees this election as a challenge from the voters to do better than the Democrats have in the past few years.
Overall, this election has posed some interesting questions about the future of the Republican Party. What remains to be seen is how the GOP will handle their new power and what plans they have for attacking President Obama’s policies.