Media Mistake GOP Midterm Victories As Evidence The U.S. Is Now A “Center-Right Country”

Media are promoting Republican gains in the House and Senate in Tuesday's midterm elections as evidence that the country has shifted to the “center-right”  on political issues, despite the fact that ballot initiatives and national polling reveal broad support for progressive positions.

Media are promoting Republican gains in the House and Senate in Tuesday's midterm elections as evidence that the country has shifted to the “center-right”  on political issues, despite the fact that ballot initiatives and national polling reveal broad support for progressive positions. 

Media Claim GOP Victories Indicate The Country Leans  “Center-Right”  

CNN's Alisyn Camerota: Do GOP Wins Suggest That "The Country Is More Right-Leaning Than Some Pundits Might Have You Believe?" On the November 5 edition of CNN's New Day, host Alisyn Camerota asked Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) if GOP wins in the midterm elections indicate that “the country is more right-leaning than some pundits might have you believe.” [CNN, New Day11/5/14]

CNBC's Joe Kernan: GOP Wins Could Be Result Of “Anti-Progressive Policy Backlash.”  On CNBC's Squawk Box, anchor Joe Kernan proposed that the sweeping GOP victories might represent an anti-progressive policy backlash: 

KERNAN: Both parties have a chance to screw this up over the next two years. But if the Republicans don't screw it up, I would say it wasn't just anti-Obama rhetoric. It wasn't just anti-incumbency. It was anti-progressive policy backlash that could swing the country even in 2016. [CNBC, The Squawk Box, 11/5/14]

CNN's John King: "America Is A Center-Right Country." On the November 5 edition of CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello, CNN's John King pointed to a map of the 2014 midterm outcomes and concluded,  “Here's the map that says it all. America is a center-right country.”   [CNN, CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello11/5/14]

Fox News' Megyn Kelly: Do GOP Midterm Wins Show That “The Country Is Becoming More Republican-Friendly During Fox News' election coverage, anchor Megyn Kelly asked Mitt Romney if the election results suggest “the country is becoming more Republican-friendly” than when he ran for president in 2012. [Fox News, America's Election HQ11/4/14]

2014 Midterms Saw Remarkably Low Voter Turnout

2014 Midterm Elections May Have Been Record Low Voter Turnout. According to unofficial tallies reported by the Associated Press, just over 83 million people voted in Tuesday's elections, just over 36.6 percent of the voting-eligible population. This is down from 91 million voters, or 42 percent of the voting-eligible population, in the 2010 midterm elections. In the past two presidential elections, around 130 million ballots were cast. As NPR's All Things Considered noted, "[I]f after all the votes are counted, if the national turnout rate doesn't reach 38.1 percent, it would be the lowest turnout since the midterm elections of 1942."  [NPR, All Things Considered11/5/14]

Americans Lean Left On Key Social And Fiscal Issues

Increasing The Minimum Wage 

Four Republican-Controlled States Voted This Week To Raise Minimum Wage. Four states controlled by Republican legislatures -- Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota -- voted in Tuesday's midterms to raise the state-mandated minimum wage. As Huffington Post reported:

Voters in four red states approved ballot initiatives to raise their state minimum wages on Tuesday, sending another message to Washington that Americans support a higher wage floor.

Binding minimum wage referendums were on the ballot in Arkansas, Nebraska, Alaska and South Dakota on Tuesday, with polls suggesting ahead of election day that all would pass.

Arkansas voters approved their initiative by a 65-to-35 margin, according to early returns. The measure will increase the minimum wage incrementally to $8.50 per hour by 2017. Nebraska voters, meanwhile, approved their initiative, which will raise the minimum wage to $9 by 2016, by a 62-to-38 margin.

Alaskans voted by a 69-to-31 margin to raise their minimum wage from $7.75 to $9.75 an hour by 2016, and then peg it to an inflation index so that it rises with the cost of living. South Dakota voted 55-45 to raise their minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 next year. It will also be indexed thereafter. [Huffington Post, 11/4/14

Several GOP Candidates Campaigned On Increasing Minimum Wage. As Slate noted, several Republican gubernatorial and congressional candidates, such as Rick Snyder (R-MI), Asa Hutchinson (R-AR), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Charlie Baker (R-MA) endorsed increasing the minimum wage. [Slate11/5/14]

Seventy Percent Of Americans Support Federal Minimum Wage Increase. According to a September poll from The New York Times and CBS News, 70 percent of Americans support raising the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour. [The New York Times9/15/14]

Health Care Reform

Americans Broadly Support Key ACA Provisions. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted earlier this year found that individual provisions of the Affordable Care Act enjoy widespread bipartisan support: 77 percent of Americans agree with eliminating out-of-pocket costs for preventive services, 79 percent favor closing the Medicare “doughnut hole,” and 56 percent approve of increasing the Medicare payroll tax on upper income brackets:

Kaiser, 2014

[Kaiser Family Foundation, 3/24/14]

Reproductive Rights

Colorado And South Dakota Rejected Personhood Amendments. As Mother Jones reported, on Tuesday Colorado voters rejected an amendment that would have defined a fetus as a person under the state's criminal code, and North Dakota opted against a ballot initiative asking if the state constitution should protect “the inalienable right to life at any stage of development.” In 2012, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) described how personhood amendments like these “erode women's basic rights” by denying access to “contraception, fertility treatments, pregnancy termination, and other essential medical procedures.” [Mother Jones, 11/5/14] [American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 02/10/12]

More Americans Identify With Democrats On Abortion Rights. An October Washington Post poll asked respondents,  “Which political party is closer to your own opinion on the issue of abortion, the (Democrats) or the (Republicans)?” Forty-eight percent said they sided with the Democratic Party, while 33 percent answered the Republican Party. [Washington Post, 10/19/14]

Support For Gun Safety Measures

Washington State Voted To Require Background Checks On All Gun Sales. A November 5 MSNBC.com article noted that expanded background checks passed easily while a competing ballot initiative promoted by gun lobby activists that would have weakened background checks was defeated by a majority of voters:

Gun control definitively won in Tuesday's elections -- in Washington, at least.

In the only state where a gun issue was directly on a ballot this week, Washington residents passed Initiative 594, the measure that will require criminal background checks on all firearms sales and transfers in the state, including at gun shows and on the Internet. The proposal, more commonly referred to as “I-594,” gained 60% of voter support, according to the NBC News Election Unit.

A rival campaign, Initiative 591, would have blocked the implementation of background checks, if passed. But more than half -- 55% -- of the state's residents rejected the competing measure, which was backed by the gun lobby.

This year marked the first major election cycle since 26 people, including 20 first-graders, were shot to death in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012. The outcome on Tuesday made Washington the seventh state to require background checks on all gun sales, and the fifth (after Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, and New York) to do so since the shooting inside Sandy Hook Elementary School. [MSNBC.com, 11/5/14]

Governors That Signed Gun Safety Measures Into Law After Newtown Were Reelected. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper was reelected after signing a “number of bills that limited magazine purchases and beefed up background checks, which prompted a recall vote against other state legislators,” as Politico noted. Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy was also reelected. As The New York Times described, his “stature grew” after Newtown and subsequent legislation championed by Malloy that banned assault weapons and strengthened background checks. [Politico11/5/14] [The New York Times11/5/14]

Ninety-Two Percent Of Voters Support Universal Background Checks. As The Hill reported, according to a poll conducted earlier this year by Quinnipac University,  “ninety-two percent of voters, including 92 percent of gun owners and 86 percent of Republicans, support background checks prior to all gun sales.”  [The Hill, 7/3/14]

Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage

Majority Of Americans Support Gay Marriage. An October ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 56 percent of Americans supported the Supreme Court's recent decision to allow gay marriage to move forward in several states: 

Overall, 56 percent of Americans support the court's action, while 38 percent oppose it - exactly matching opinions on whether or not gay marriage should be legal, asked in an ABC/Post poll in June. These results reflect the public's dramatic shift in support of gay marriage the past decade.

By declining to hear several appeals, the high court cleared the way for gay marriage in five states - Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. Three others in the same jurisdictions followed suit (Colorado, North Carolina and West Virginia), and gay marriage bans in three additional states, Idaho, Nevada and Alaska, were rejected by other courts in the past week. [ABC News/Washington Post Poll10/17/14]

Gallup: Nearly Eight In 10 Young Adults Support Gay Marriage. According to a May Gallup poll, nearly eight in 10 young adults, ages 18 to 29, support gay marriage, and overall support for same-sex marriage is at an all-time high:

Gallup, 2014

[Gallup, 5/21/14]