The current Republican talking point seems to be that the election was a “referendum on Obama’s polices.”
On the face of it, it obviously was not-his policies were not on the ballots to be voted upon. Of course, the Republicans do not mean that. Rather, they most likely mean that their winning the majority in the House (and doing well in the various gubernatorial races) is an indicator that the majority of Americans have rejected Obama’s policies.
On one hand, this has a degree of plausibility. After all, the Republican’s tended to run on anti-Obama talking points and have asserted that they will focus on undoing what Obama has done. As such, when people voted for the Republicans they could be taken as also rejecting Obama. Of course, since the Senate is still held by the Democrats and the Democrats won some races, it would seem that the alleged referendum on Obama was not a complete rejection. Naturally, the fact that most folks don’t vote, that people might be voting for specific candidates (or against specific candidates) also needs to be factored into determining whether this was, in fact, such a virtual referendum.
On the other hand, this notion that this was a referendum on Obama can be disputed. As noted above, it is worth considering the impact that the specific candidates had on the elections. So, for example, perhaps some Republicans won because voters preferred them to the Democrats running against them, as opposed to expressing a general rejection of Obama’s policies.
Another factor worth considering is that most people seem to be unaware of the actual content of the policies in question and their actual effects. As such, to say that this was a referendum on said policies would seem to be implausible. Then again, people do often vote on actual referendums in ignorance of the actual content, so perhaps voters could be seen as rejecting these policies even though they generally do not know much about them. To steal Locke’s phrase, perhaps they are rejecting “they know not what.”
There are already polls being taken as to what Americans think about this talking point. One election day poll indicates that 52% of the voters did regard it as a referendum on Obama. Of course, factoring in a margin of error, it could easily be the case that most voters did not see it as such. However, even if a majority did not see it this way, this is still a significant result.
As far as why the Republicans are pushing the talking point, the most obvious explanation is that they intend to use these results as a mandate to attack Obama and his policies. They have, of course, planned to roll back Obama’s health care legislation and other policies. There is even talk of impeaching Obama, even though he has rather clearly done nothing that would provide a rational justification of such a process.
- Bauer Says Early Election Results a Referendum on Obama … and Voters Have had Enough (prnewswire.com)
- Is The Election A Referendum on Barack Obama? What Idiot Is Arguing This, Of Course It Is (stopliberals.wordpress.com)
- Of Course The Election Is A Referendum on Barack Obama (stopliberals.wordpress.com)
- GOP casting midterms as referendum on Obama agenda (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- The Obama Referendum (thedailybeast.com)
- America votes ‘No’ in referendum on Barack Obama (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
- Last Night- The Senate, Yeah It Was About Obama (minx.cc)