A comeback for limited government conservatism
There's no reason for conservatives to be Pollyannaish about Tuesday's results. President Obama's re-election, coupled with Democratic gains in the Senate, mean that his national health care law will be implemented as planned, taxes will rise, and there will be no hope of genuinely reforming of our nation's broken entitlement system in the near future.
But as tempting as it will be for analysts to pin the GOP's 2012 defeat on an embrace of small-government extremism, the results from last night don't actually bear this out.
According to exit polls as described by Politico, "53 percent of those surveyed said the government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals -- a figure that's risen 10 points since the 2008 election. Comparatively, 41 percent of voters said they believe government should be doing more."
When House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan unveiled his first budget proposing sweeping reforms to Medicare and Medicaid in 2011, Democrats celebrated because they thought it would destroy the GOP. They launched a scare campaign on the idea that Republicans were going to end Medicare and toss Granny over the cliff. This strategy went into overdrive when Mitt Romney picked Ryan as his running mate.
And yet, the Romney-Ryan ticket obliterated Obama among voters over age 65, winning the group by a 12-point margin. That number not only beat John McCain's performance among seniors, but also the five-point margin former President Bush enjoyed over John Kerry in 2004 -- the year after Bush signed the Medicare prescription drug benefit into law.
At the same time, Republicans maintained control of the House of Representatives, which overwhelmingly passed versions of the Ryan budget this year and last. ...