Voters sent a message, but what was it?

November 5, 2014

Yesterday’s midterm elections held many “holy crap” moments, particularly for the badly bruised Democrats, and in the coming days and weeks pundits will pick apart the results, but a common reaction has been how fickle the electorate can prove:

@bencasselman: So voters want a higher minimum wage, legal pot, abortion access and GOP representation. Ok then.

@UpshotNYT: Fascinating. The states that benefited most from Obamacare elected Republicans. http://t.co/bFAR7G0bhC

@jodyavirgan: 5/5 vote to raise the minimum wage; 3/4 to legalize weed; 6/7 to elect Republican senators. America, you’re a very interesting place.

@magicsilicon: @fmanjoo There are fewer states with Democratic governors than states where gay marriage is legal

That last tweet brings attention to the juxtaposition of a couple of astonishingly different maps. Since we wrote about the issue less than a month ago, the percentage of Americans who live in a jurisdiction that allows gay marriage has further increased, to include 32 states and the District of Columbia, as this Reuters map shows. Conversely, as this Reuters map shows, yesterday was particularly harsh to Democratic candidates for governor, and with three races (Virginia, Louisiana, and Alaska) remaining to be called, the 31 states with GOP governors could increase to 34.

Much of the nature of this disconnect can be ascribed to the fact that victories for gay marriage supporters have come in the courts more than at the ballot box, but it also speaks to how disaffected voters are with the economy and politics as usual. It should be interesting to see if the desperate signs sent by this year’s midterms can congeal into a coherent message from the 2016 electorate.

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