Across the nation, election night 2014 was hailed (or decried, depending on perspective) as a Republican romp, and a few watchers called it a conservative triumph.
The first part was unquestionably true: With few exceptions (such as to Washington’s south in Oregon and California) Republicans did extremely well nationwide, and while their gains in Washington were not enormous in size, they were significant.
Translating that to gains for conservatism is a more problematic matter. Most of the winning Republicans, in Washington and in many other places, did not campaign on down-the-line conservatism. Perhaps clearer however was the matter of the ballot issues.
A string of minimum-wage issues passed, severa in red states, around the country. Oregon and Alaska (and Washington, D.C.) passed legal pot measures mirroring Washington and Colorado from two years ago.
And in Washington . . . Voters turned their backs on the Measure 591, which would “prohibit government agencies from confiscating guns or other firearms from citizens without due process, or from requiring background checks on firearm recipients unless a uniform national standard is required.” It lost decisively.
Instead, the same cadre of voters which boosted Republican totals backed a measure specifically calling for more extensive background checks for gun sales.
The voters also narrowly – and apparently, since a recount may happen – passed a measure restricting school classroom sizes, a measure with little financial backup, so little that even Democratic Governor Jay Inslee said he voted against it.
So on two distinct issues the voters – the same voters helping out Republicans – went to the left of where most Democratic elected officials were willing to go.
Ponder that for a bit as you plot out the opening moves of election cycle 2016.