In Tuesday’s elections, voters rejected recreational marijuana, transgender rights, and illegal-immigrant sanctuaries; they reacted equivocally to gun-control arguments; and they handed a surprise victory to a Republican gubernatorial candidate who emphasized his opposition to gay marriage.
Democrats have become increasingly assertive in taking liberal social positions in recent years, believing that they enjoy majority support and even seeking to turn abortion and gay rights into electoral wedges against Republicans. But Tuesday’s results—and the broader trend of recent elections that have been generally disastrous for Democrats not named Barack Obama—call that view into question. Indeed, they suggest that the left has misread the electorate’s enthusiasm for social change, inviting a backlash from mainstream voters invested in the status quo.
Consider these results:
- Ohio voters rejected a ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana by a 30-point margin.
- Voters in Houston—a strongly Democratic city—rejected by a 20-point margin a nondiscrimination ordinance that opponents said would lead to “men in women’s bathrooms.”
- The San Francisco sheriff who had defended the city’s sanctuary policy after a sensational murder by an illegal immigrant was voted out.
- Two Republican state senate candidates in Virginia were targeted by Everytown for Gun Safety, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s gun-control group. One won and one lost, leaving the chamber in GOP hands.
- Matt Bevin, the Republican gubernatorial nominee in Kentucky, pulled out a resounding victory that defied the polls after emphasizing social issues and championing Kim Davis, the county clerk who went to jail rather than issue same-sex marriage licenses. Bevin told the Washington Post on the eve of the vote that he’d initially planned to stress economic issues, but found that “this is what moves people.”