Here’s the longer, unedited version of my column published in today’s The Daily Beast – It Wasn’t About the Economy, Stupid.
The conventional wisdom among pundits, pollsters, and political analysts is that the Republican victory in the midterms represents a referendum on – and a stunning of repudiation of – the Obama administration’s stewardship of the economy. “U.S. registered voters choose economic conditions by nearly a 2-to-1 margin over any of four other key election issues as the most important to their vote for Congress,” according to a Gallup organization analysis, a result that held “across all partisan groups.”
But the geographic patterns of Tuesday’s historic election results reveal a curious paradox. While the economy was clearly the voters’ number one concern, economic conditions alone cannot explain why they cast their ballots as they did. A Wall Street Journal analysis of House races found that Democrats held onto their seats in congressional districts that were feeling the recession the worst. “Of the 25 congressional districts hit hardest by the recession—measured by joblessness, poverty rates, and housing prices—16 are currently represented by Democrats. Fourteen of them won re-election despite the Republican tide.”