It's a mistake to believe the Republican midterm victories represent an embrace of the party and its policies. The results were an "anti-Democrat wave" driven by a deep dissatisfaction with Washington, says Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster.
"There will now be more Americans under Republican representation than at any time in decades. And the re-elections of GOP governors in blue states like Michigan and Wisconsin are certainly a validation of their policies. It was a tsunami; someone needs to get the Democrats a towel. But that anti-Democrat wave was not the same as a pro-Republican endorsement," said veteran strategist Lutz in an opinion piece for The New York Times
Luntz said that a poll taken by his firm on Tuesday night showed that voters were motivated by choosing a candidate that would "shake up and change the way Washington operates."
He added that his experience traveling across the country and talking to voters in at least 30 states reflected those findings.
"They voted out those who promised to do more in favor of those who said they would do less, but do it better," he wrote. "The results were less about the size of government than about making government efficient, effective, and accountable."
To that end, Republicans in Congress must rise to that challenge, he said.
"The mission has to be a restoration of confidence in the future."
Luntz listed three key ways Republican lawmakers can ensure they are successful in achieving what the people have elected them to do.
First, they must hold Washington accountable. The scandals that have plagued the Obama administration have created a "chasm between hard-working taxpayers and Washington." He added that lawmakers must also hold one another accountable for broken promises. "If you're truly different, act differently," he said.
Second, the party must make sure the people's priorities are its priorities. He said his survey found that making government more efficient and controlling spending were top of the list.
"So tackle deficits and the national debt, and root out the waste and abuse of government programs. Reduce the crippling red tape and regulations that are strangling small businesses. As the House majority leader, Kevin McCarthy, said, show that a Republican Congress has both the wisdom to listen and the courage to lead," Luntz wrote.
Finally, he said the posturing and fighting needs to end, and that Republicans must work with Democrats on issues of real national importance to show that people are the priority, not politics.
"This isn't about pride of ownership regarding American progress; this is about progress, period. Americans don't care about Democratic solutions or Republican solutions. They just want common-sense solutions that make everyday life just a little bit easier. But they can't get their houses in order until Washington gets its own house in order," he concluded.
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