Governors Races Reveal Biggest Surprise of 2014 Mid-Term Elections

President Obama’s policies were repudiated in an election that he previously acknowledged would be feature his policies on the ballot. Obviously, he believed his supporters would show up to vote for his party, but that did not happen nearly to the degree it was needed. Election night had the GOP seize control of the Senate chamber for the first times since 2006. Despite the Senate victories, the biggest surprises of the evening were in the governors’ races.

The state of Maryland was the most shocking surprise. GOP challenger Larry Hogan, a businessman, stunned the nation by pulling off an upset victory against Anthony G. Brown, the state’s Lt. Governor. Brown, an African-American looked to by some as a protégé of President Obama, was expected to easily win election in a state dominated by the Democrat party. In fact, Maryland was one of the few places that President Obama actively campaigned for a Democrat. In the end, Brown lost in a landslide election 45% to 54%. Voter discontent with high taxes turned out to be the issue that had many registered Democrats casting ballots for the challenger. Hogan becomes only the second Republican elected as Maryland’s governor in 45 years.

Massachusetts, another deep blue (Democrat) state, elected their first governor since Mitt Romney was elected in 2002. GOP challenger Charlie Baker, a businessman, was able to narrowly defeat his challenger Martha Coakley. Baker was able to sway voters with his background in business with a particular emphasis on health care.

President Obama’s home state of Illinois also elected a Republican governor. Bruce Rauner, a businessman, was able to defeat incumbent Democrat governor Pat Quinn on a platform of growing the economy and eschewing corruption. The GOP clearly benefited from voter frustration due to the lack of job opportunities. According to exit polls, the economy was the single biggest concern among voters.

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