For the first time since 1995, more Americans have identified themselves as Republicans. Gallup, which performs such party affiliation polling regularly, stated, “In the fourth quarter, party support flipped as Republicans made gains, from 44% to 47%, and Democratic affiliation fell from 45% to 42%. These fourth-quarter shifts coincided with strong GOP performances in 2021 elections, including a Republican victory in the Virginia gubernatorial election and a near-upset of the Democratic incumbent governor in New Jersey. Biden won both states by double digits in the 2020 election.”
Back in 1995, Republicans were enjoying the tailwind of one of their most successful election years ever. November 1994 was the culmination of the Republican Revolution, and what gave the GOP credibility then, and is a model for today, was Newt Gingrich’s Contract With America. Here History.com explains:
A balanced budget amendment. Tax cuts. Welfare reform. Those were just three of the 10 points of the Contract with America, Newt Gingrich’s conservative plan, signed by 300-plus Republican candidates and presented at a press conference just six weeks before the 1994 midterm elections.
The proposal by Gingrich, then Speaker of the House, has been credited with the “Republican Revolution” that ensued at the polls, with the GOP easily taking control of the U.S. House and Senate, gaining 12 governorships and regaining control in 20 state legislatures.
Republicans had long been in the minority in Congress and the key to the Republican sweep, says Paul Teske, dean of the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado, Denver, was in making the campaigns national.
“The Democrats controlled the House for 40 straight years prior to 1994, with an interesting coalition of northeast/midwest liberals and southern Democrats, who by today have all become Republicans,” he says, adding that Democrats had held the House for 58 of the prior 62 years and the Senate for 34 of 40 years prior to 1994. “So, Republicans were not used to having congressional power. Their thought was that by nationalizing the election, it could be a way to get power back.”
President Clinton and Hillary Clinton were campaign targets.
Teske adds that Republicans had some easy “targets to attack,” from the unpopular, early years of President Bill Clinton, to the Hillary Clinton-led health care proposal to individual corruption cases in Congress.
The overarching goal of the contract involved cutting taxes, reducing the size of government and reducing government regulations, taking aim at Congress, itself, to be more transparent, less corrupt and more open with the public.
“Essentially, it claimed that it would ‘drain the swamp’—though they didn’t use that term, in terms of what Donald Trump would later articulate,” Teske says. “If successful, the contract specified 10 bills they would bring up for votes in the first 100 days, including a balanced budget amendment, term limits, social security reform and others.”
Republicans should again articulate their goals should Americans give them the privilege of controlling the House and Senate. Rather than Keven McCarthy’s laundry list of investigations and revenge-seeking, Americans want to know what the GOP is going to do to help them, and help America.
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