Last night, the tossup senate races broke sharply toward the Republican party, which Republicans winning in two states where President Obama won in 2008 and 2012: Iowa and Colorado. Research shows that one way that conflict can be ameliorated is when the boundaries between competing groups are blurred. Indeed, if you look at some of the rhetoric from the victors, you can see that there may indeed be the seeds of compromise.
Gardner, who represented a conservative fourth U.S. House district on the state’s eastern plains, courted the political center to win. He highlighted that strategy in his acceptance speech.
“The people of Colorado, voters around this state had their voices heard. They are not red. They are not blue. But they are crystal clear. Crystal clear in their message to Washington, D.C.,: Get your job done and get the heck of out of the way,” he said.
On the other side of the aisle, Red State Democrats like Joe Manchin of West Virginia have led some of the most significant compromises, again by blurring the familiar political lines. In contrast, those senators who are least eager to compromise often seek to reinforce the differences between groups, exacerbating the partisan divides by seeking a clear contrast.
Mitch McConnell, the new Senate Majority Leader, specifically went out of his way to strike a tone of compromise in his victory speech and talked about the “obligation to work together” with the opposite side toward solutions to our common problems. Let’s hope that, as research would suggest, a less homogenous Republican Senate caucus (and eventually a less homogenous Democratic Senate caucus) leads to that vision becoming a reality.
- Ravi Iyer