Despite Everything, U.S. Still Mostly Rejects Unqualified Candidates

The story of the election is of course the great gains made by Republicans in both the House and the Senate.  But what might be lost in the changing of the guard is that despite the obvious zeal of the voter to put in a conservative (or, as many think, to lodge a protest vote against the Democratic party in general), in a majority of cases voters still chose to reject candidates who were unqualified for office, regardless of national praise and pressure.

The Tea Party movement brought a swath of very vocal candidates and supporters into the mix this election cycle, predicated on the idea that government would be better served by people who were not “establishment.”  In fact, the further from the beltway you were, the more the Party embraced you, and not having run for office, or even being altogether unqualified, became a badge of honor among them.

The most obvious examples of this phenomenon occurred in Delaware in two races that should ended in Republican wins, if not for the Tea Party.  Were it not for the Tea Party Express’s last minute pressure, as well as the endless support from Tea Party spokeswoman Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell would have lost the endorsement to moderate (and experienced) Republican Rep. Mike Castle.  With the wave of pro-Republican voters who came out this cycle, I have no doubt that Castle would have won Vice President Biden’s Democratic senate seat, a miscalculation that may actually end up costing the Republicans a tie in senate and forcing the V.P. to be a final vote.

Riding the coattails of O’Donnell (and the Palin/Tea Party phenomena) was businessman Glen Urqhuart, who also ran as a fringe right candidate to win the endorsement.  Urqhart, too, lost his bid, despite the Republican wave, flipping the Republican House seat that Castle vacated over to a Democrat.  Although the loss would be felt much less than the senate loss, it is still amazing in a wave year.

Nevada’s Sharron Angle is another example of voters rejecting a candidate who was simply unqualified for office.  Angle’s inability to grasp key issues, her inability to talk to media, often running away from them, would have put her in O’Donnell territory had she been up against any candidate other than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  It was who her challenger was that made this at all a race, bringing in huge amounts of both financial and campaign support that was denied O’Donnell, and turning her race into a last minute squeaker instead of an early call.   Should Angle have won, the lesson would not have been that people want “everyday men and women” to run Congress, but that people just really, really hate Harry Reid.

And finally, Alaska’s Joe Miller proves as well that not only does America not actually think that just “any guy” should be a better senator, but that even those who consider themselves Republicans won’t take just any candidate, even if you put the Republican brand on it.  Sen. Lisa Murkowski may well be on the way to winning only the second ever successful write-in campaign for Senate (the first being Strom Thurmond), simply because the endorsement process let through a extreme, unvetted, unprepared candidate and let him have the GOP moniker.  He may have been running as an “Average Joe” but in the end, it looks like that will cost him a senate seat.

Of course, some candidates have managed to buck that trend.  Kentucky’s new senator, Rand Paul, shows that you can be an extreme right-wing, inexperienced politician and still win a senate seat, assuming the climate is just right.  But even Paul found himself in a tight situation, being tied at one point until people in the state reacted poorly to a commercial from challenger Jack Conway that they believed attacked Paul over religion.

Yes, Democrats received a lot of very bad news in the midterms.  There will be a new and full freshman class of politicians coming in that could change the face of politics in the country.  But for the most part, these aren’t completely green politicians, and at least we can be grateful for that.

Peaco Todd


Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman7 years ago

Noted. thanx

Barbara V.
Barbara V7 years ago

Oh yeah? Well then, how come nobody threw a successful fit when Bush and Cheney stole the presidency? (With GOP help, of course.) Is this the era of fools in government?

Ronald Ellsworth
Ronald E7 years ago

The operative word in the title is "mostly". Hypocrites will always vote for hypocrites, qualified or not. We ALL have hypocrites in the neighborhood, even in the family (but they are all in-laws, of course).

Michael Kayutak
Michael Kayutak7 years ago

I was born in Alaska, I was raised in Alaska, I live in Alaska. And I'll die in Alaska. In fact Alaska has always been doomed ever since it became a conservative (monarchy) state, believe me.

Mary L.
Mary L7 years ago

Doom them to what? Qualified representation? Even if they're Republican I sure hope so.

Earthward PR
Earthward PR7 years ago

Rie Rie wrote:

"We need critical thinking taught from 3rd grade on in our schools"

I disagree. I think we need it from FIRST grade on. In other words, as early as possible in compulsory education. I think the vast majority of adults grossly underestimate the ability of kids to grasp such concepts. I began introducing critical thinking skills to my son at the ripe old age of three, in the form of games at first, and it was effective. He's now the most rational teenager I know (or have known, including myself at that age).

As members of human society, we face a barrage of religious, political and commercial brainwashing throughout life. Young children, who have not been properly immunized by development of rational/critical thinking skills, are especially susceptible, and thus the primary targets of brainwashers. Irrational beliefs acquired in childhood, are often difficult to shed later, even if critical thinking skills subsequently improve.

Toni Clark
Toni C7 years ago

Marie, I tried sending you a green star, but couldn't, so I want to say I agree with you completely... the Tea Party will be the end of the USA as we know it.
Money seems to buy loyalty... look at Fox News and the Chamber of Commerce, along with some others... But, with all this behind the right and far right wings, they still cannot control themselves from suppressing votes, lying, and manipulating all for the sake of the almighty dollar. They profess to be Christians, but they don't worship God... they worship money and power to control.

Patricia S.
Pat S7 years ago

Rie Rie,
Look further into George Soros and all of his corrupt funding!!!!

Marie W.
Marie W7 years ago

Tea Party will doom USA...

Bill Brown
Bill B7 years ago

The selfserving party of "no" and Fox megaphones made it their primary mission to thwart the will of the people by attacking President Obama and his policies from the get go. The Republicans/Teabaggers and rightwing pundits continually bashed the president's agenda with fearmongering distortions and outright lies. The party of "no" has no regard for the people of the U.S.A., only enriching corporations and fattening their own wallets in the process.