Republicans victorious in 2014, can easily take 2016 if willing to make sacrifices

Republicans captured massive victories in the midterm elections, burying Democratic candidates in key congressional races.

If the GOP plays its cards right, the party will roll that success straight into the presidential election.

Republicans can easily carry this success into 2016 if they negotiate legislation with Democrats and make even a slight amount of progress.

“Republicans are now in a position where President Obama can, and will, compromise,” said Julia Mueller, chair of Elon College Republicans.

In this year’s midterms, many conservatives won by using public dissatisfaction with Obama to their advantage. That strategy worked because voters hate the status quo of gridlock in Washington. Voters do not like a seemingly dysfunctional government.

The midterms did not justify a mandate for conservatism, as some GOP faithful have claimed. It just shows that voters grew weary of the current powers. Democrats held more power, so they took more of the blame.

“(The Republican victories) show a greater dissatisfaction with the job the president has been doing,” said sophomore and president of Guilford College Republicans Harrison Houlihan. “It’s worth noting that in states such as North Carolina the Democratic incumbent was often seen as … in cahoots with the president, toeing the presidential line as it were.”

Just look at the North Carolina Senate campaigns. The race here developed a national reputation as one of the worst for attack ads. Neither side could tout their accomplishments to gain votes, so both made the opponent seem worse.

Kay Hagan had to distance herself from the Obama administration to even make the election competitive. Thom Tillis could play the blame game and win from voter dissatisfaction.

“(The Republicans) had one purpose: to embarrass Obama, embarrass the Democrats (and) gridlock the government so that nothing would get done,” said Robert Duncan, assistant professor of political science. “It worked for the midterms.”

Republicans cannot use the same strategy in two years. Now that they succeeded in the midterms, they have to make improvement in Washington.

The GOP must capitalize on the chance it has. Voters want to see progress and feel that the country has found a path to greater prosperity. Conservatives have a perfect opportunity to take those voters.

Obama currently holds a 54 percent disapproval rating. He has practically handed the GOP a rare advantage on a presidential silver platter. Republicans can take it by showing the nation that they can end gridlock in Congress and settle disputes with the president.

But Conservatives could just as easily squander the opportunity.

The GOP cannot see call for a conservative revolution in Washington and go whole hog for their platform. That could easily result in further obstacles in Congress and even presidential vetoes. Republicans just need to show that they can make more progress than when the Democrats held the wheel.

It sounds easy enough, but maybe not. The Tea Party has won most of their offices by pushing an agenda of strong conservative ideas and not backing down. The same goes for plenty of congressmen from the GOP.

However, if conservatives can show some restraint, and stomach the thought of giving up some ground on their positions, the party could benefit enormously in 2016.

The Republicans would need to loosen their tight grip on conservative ideas and show that they can change. It might prove tough for some conservatives to manage, but the dividends could show up as voters for a Republican presidential nominee.

Republicans must make improvements on Capitol Hill if they want any chance of replacing President Obama with a conservative leader. Otherwise, the GOP can look forward to another four years of gridlock between Congress and a Democratic president.