Two numbers stand out after the 2014 midterm elections: the largest Republican majority in the House since 1928 (a year before the 1929 stock market crash that ushers in the Great Depression) voted in by the worst voter turnout since 1942 (after America enters World War II). If the past is any indication of the future, this country is in deep trouble for the next two years. But those weren’t the most important numbers. Three numbers about the new Republican majority in the Senate indicates what the midterm elections were really about.
Sixty-seven is the number of votes needed to override a presidential veto. The new Republican majority in the Senate has 52 members, which may increase to 54 after several contested elections get settled in the next few months. Unless the Republicans play nice with the Democrats to pick additional votes, they can’t override a presidential veto on their own.
Unfortunately, the Republicans won their new majority by ousting out conservative Democrats from conservative states. They have no one to negotiate with—except themselves. As we have seen over in the House, if the Establishment Republicans and the Tea Party Republicans can’t agree, much less negotiate, over a common agenda, nothing will get done. For some people, doing nothing is a perfectly acceptable state of affairs for Congress.
Sixty is the number of votes required to override a Democratic filibuster. The Republicans will have to play nice with the Democrats to pick up extra votes. Or experience the frustrations that they inflicted on the Democrats for the last six years. The Republicans could do away with the filibuster entirely and pass everything on a simple majority vote (51 yeas). However, gutting the minority’s right to hamstring the legislative process is too extreme for the world’s most deliberative body. The Republicans may find themselves in the minority again.
Twenty-four is the number of Senate seats that the Republicans will have to defend in 2016. The 2010 anti-incumbent Tea Party will face re-election for the first time as incumbents. Since the 112th Congress has distinguished itself as being the least productive Congress since the “do nothing” 80th Congress of the 1940’s, the incumbents will have few successes to show the voters back home. Expect the Tea Party incumbents to face Tea Party and/or Establishment challengers in the primary elections.
Unless the Republicans learn to C-O-M-P-R-O-M-I-S-E to get things done with President Obama and the Democrats, nothing will change for the next few years. If Hillary Clinton becomes the next president as many people expect, don’t expect the Republican Party to change their demographics to attract a wider voting base. It’ll be eight more years of the do nothing status quo, as the Republican Party match into the dustbin of history.