TIME Congress

Senate Blocks Keystone Legislation

Landrieu Handed Loss by Fellow Democrats

Senate Democrats blocked a bill to authorize the 1,179-mile TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline Tuesday evening, delaying a confrontation between the White House and Republicans over the project and potentially damaging Democratic Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu’s hopes for re-election in a tight runoff vote next month.

All 45 Republican Senators and 14 Democrats voted for the bill, falling one short of the 60 votes needed to override a Democratic filibuster of the measure.

The vote capped a day of political stunts and speeches on the floor of the Senate. Hours earlier, Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, California Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer, stood in front of a huge poster marked “Misery Follows Tar Sands” and another with people wearing protective face masks. “It’s called Keystone XL,” Boxer said, “Not extra large, but extra lethal… Why do we want to bring barrels of filthy, dangerous, dirty pollution into America?”

On the other side of the Capitol, House Speaker John Boehner said in a press conference Tuesday morning that vetoing a bill for the popular pipeline would be the “equivalent of calling the American people ‘stupid.’”

Landrieu worked hard to find the 15 Democrats needed for passage, garnering support from Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and Delaware Sen. Tom Carper. “We’ve been at this for six years,” said Carper who believes the pipeline has “impeded” efforts to pass clean energy bills. “We need to vote on it and move on.”

Even some environmentalists agree with Carper’s assessment that the Keystone push has taken the spotlight from other issues. Michael Shellenberger, the President of the progressive Breakthrough Institute, says that the Keystone debate is symbolic of a broader problem for the environmental movement in which partisans with narrow interests fail to support potentially bipartisan energy plans with coal alternatives like nuclear and natural gas. “I think the greatest irony of it—and that no one really talks about—is that right in the middle of the thing we’re having a huge fracking boom,” he says.

“[Environmentalists] hitched their carts to the Democrats and it doesn’t really give any incentive to Republicans to care or do much of anything on the environment,” adds Shellenberger. “This is the most politically weakened environmental movement there’s probably ever been since the movement was created in 1970.”

As for Landrieu, her chances to defeat Rep. Bill Cassidy in their Dec. 6 runoff–never very good–just got smaller. Even the publicity she got pushing the bill won’t do her much good, according to Louisiana political experts. “I don’t think the pipeline bill push will do much to change the dynamics of this election,” Pearson Cross, a political science professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette said before the vote. “It is probably too little too late.”

After the bill’s defeat was announced on the floor, a singing man dressed in Native American garb and a handful of student protesters were escorted from the viewing section of the Senate chamber and handcuffed.

TIME 2014 Election

The Politics Behind Mary Landrieu’s Pipeline Power Play

Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) holds a news conference with fellow committee member Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) on the Keystone XL pipeline in Washington on Nov. 12, 2014.
Senator Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, holds a news conference with fellow committee member Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, on the Keystone XL pipeline in Washington on Nov. 12, 2014 Gary Cameron—Reuters

The Louisiana Democrat's move may be too little too late

Democrat Mary Landrieu’s attempt to force President Barack Obama to authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline is the latest in a political thrust-and-parry exchange between the three-term Senator and GOP Representative Bill Cassidy, her opponent in next month’s Senate runoff election in Louisiana. But Landrieu’s gambit may be too little too late, election watchers say.

The frantic maneuvering started Wednesday morning when Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell promised Cassidy a spot on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee if Cassidy beats Landrieu in the December runoff. Landrieu chairs the committee and has touted her tenure there as a symbol of her influence on Capitol Hill.

In response, Landrieu took to the floor of the Senate and gave a nearly three-hour speech calling for the body to take a vote on her bill, which would require Obama to clear the final bureaucratic and regulatory obstacles preventing construction of the pipeline.

The next move came from across the Capitol building, when House Speaker John Boehner and majority leader Kevin McCarthy fast-tracked Cassidy’s three-page bill to authorize the pipeline straight to the floor of the House, bypassing the committees that normally would have weighed the proposal. Cassidy’s bill (which matches the Senate language) will get a House vote on Friday.

When the Senate votes as early as Tuesday on Landrieu’s bill, it will be the first time in six years that both chambers of Congress will vote on the pipeline, according to the Washington Post.

“It’s been a dizzying 24 hours for a supposed lame-duck legislature as it relates to Louisiana,” says Joshua Stockley, an associate professor of political science at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Landrieu’s gambit may help her re-election chances, but it comes at a cost. Forcing a Keystone vote in Congress will give McConnell and Boehner an unexpected win on the list of issues they want to tackle when the GOP takes control of both chambers of Congress early next year. White House press secretary Josh Earnest signaled Wednesday that the President would oppose the legislation, as he has in the past.

“We have indicated that the President’s senior advisors at the White House would recommend that he veto legislation like that,” said Earnest. “And that does continue to be our position.”

And it’s not even clear how much Landrieu’s push will help her chances. “Landrieu’s task is continuing to separate and distance herself from the President,” says Stockley. “Does Keystone help make that argument? Yes, but I would argue that’s been somewhat neutralized. Cassidy is going to be able to come back and say, ‘My language, my bill, I voted on it too.'”

“She’s going to have to do something more significant than the Keystone pipeline to beat Representative Cassidy,” he adds.

In last week’s race, Landrieu nabbed the top spot with 42% of the vote, compared with 41% for Cassidy and 14% for Tea Party candidate Rob Maness. She is facing an avalanche of ads and outside spending she can’t match (she lost the financial support of the group designed to get her elected, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee) and an opponent bolstered by Maness’s conservatives. As TIME’s Denver Nicks notes, Landrieu’s team believes she’s got a shot if she wins 30% of white voters, up from just 18% she received in the general elections last week. Of course, Landrieu has won runoffs before, in 1996 and 2002, and has expressed hope for pulling out another victory.

“Are you a lost cause?” NBC’s Kasie Hunt asked Landrieu on Wednesday. “I don’t believe I am,” she replied.

TIME Newsmaker Interview

Mary Landrieu Talks to TIME About the Fight of Her Political Life

Sen. Landrieu Gathers With Supporters On Election Night In New Orleans
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) gathers with supporters during midterm elections at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans on Nov. 4, 2014. Stacy Revere—Getty Images

The senior Senator from Louisiana talks hardball politics and Keystone XL at a campaign stop in New Orleans

Mary Landrieu did not look like a politician on the brink of extinction as she arrived at the National World War II Museum’s crowded Veterans Day get-together in her hometown of New Orleans on Tuesday. With the hulks of retired warplanes suspended overhead, the senior Senator from Louisiana made her way toward the stage through a sea of smiles, handshakes and hugs from old friends. She stopped for a chat with the New Orleans Maritime Marine Academy Band before taking a seat on stage next to the mayor, who is also her little brother.

But as the Senate Democrats’ final flag-bearer in the Deep South, Landrieu is every bit the last of an endangered political species. In a three-way contest on Election Day earlier this month, she finished first with 42% compared to 40% for Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy and 14% for Tea Party favorite Rob Maness. Landrieu and Cassidy now go head-to-head in a runoff Dec. 6, and many of Maness’ supporters are expected to back her Republican opponent.

Landrieu has been all but abandoned by the national Democratic Party ahead of the runoff. Cassidy and his supporters have paid for 96% of the ads aired since the runoff began, while the national Democratic campaigns have pulled virtually all of their money out of the race.

But Landrieu is putting a brave face on it. Democrats throughout the South took an Election Day beating in part because voters saw the midterms as a referendum on President Obama, Landrieu says. With the GOP soon to be in control of the Senate, the Republican majority is no longer at stake and Landrieu hopes that fact will give her space to focus the race back on Louisiana. “We have the race that we want!” she declared after results came in election night.

The magic number for Landrieu to win that race is “30”, say campaign aides. Black voters, a solidly Democratic constituency, must comprise 30% of the electorate and she’s got to win 30% of white votes, the aides say. She has a ways to go to make those numbers. On November 4, she took just 18% of white votes—if she hopes to keep her job she’ll have to win over the rest.

To get there, Landrieu is playing up her more than 18 years as a moderate deal-maker in the Senate and her lengthy record of bringing home the proverbial bacon. Among the projects she has managed to bring to Louisiana, Landrieu reminded the crowd on Veterans Day, was the National World War II Museum in which they were all gathered.

After speeches from Landrieu, her brother Mitch the mayor, Republican Sen. David Vitter and Marine Corps Colonel Bradley Weisz (who was the only speaker all day to mention President Obama), Landrieu sat down with TIME to discuss her uphill political battle.

TIME: You mentioned after the election that this is the campaign you’ve always wanted. Why? The numbers are daunting—

Sen. Mary Landrieu: Hold on. The campaign I wanted is a campaign against Bill Cassidy. Not against the entire anger at the national government. And the first race was so much anger about gridlock in Washington, now that that race is over the Republicans have taken control of the Senate. Mitch McConnell is now going to be the Majority Leader. Barack Obama has been in some ways repudiated by the voters nationally. Not personally, but some of his policies. I think now voters here can focus on what’s best for Louisiana. So this is the race that I’ve wanted to run, between Mary Landrieu and Bill Cassidy. Running on my record against his record. And if we can get voters to focus on that I’m confident of a victory.

In recent days you’ve been highlighting things like the gender gap, the minimum wage, issues that particularly affect women.

OK, yes but what you need to be corrected on is that I’ve been highlighting those issues since the first day of the campaign. You would write it wrong. This is not a recent switch. I’ve been talking about minimum wage, pay equity, Lilly Ledbetter, since the first day of this campaign because economic issues are really at the heart of what Louisiana voters want to focus on. Oil and gas jobs, worker training, the skills gap, fair wages and benefits. I’ve talked about that since the first day of the campaign.

Now, a lot of that’s been drowned out by my opponent who won’t discuss that in any way, shape or form. All he wants to talk about is the President. And, as I’ve said, I’ve now worked with three presidents, six governors and four majority leaders. The race that I want to run is a race about: Has Mary Landrieu delivered for Louisiana? And what has she done? And what kind of teams has she built? What kind of record does she have versus Bill Cassidy. If I can get that race, we will win. I will win.

With Republicans in control of the Senate is Keystone XL going to go through?

That’s a good question. We’re actually very close to getting Keystone passed right now. I’ve been working very hard on a stand alone vote on Keystone. You might think that it’ll be easier in January but you would be jumping to a conclusion that’s not yet proven, because in order to get Keystone passed, remember, it has to be passed by the House and the same bill by the Senate and then signed into law by the President. So, if you think about getting a clean bill, like my bill, like the one I have with Hoeven, it’s a Hoeven-Landrieu bill, it has 45 Republican co-sponsors plus a few Democrats. A clean stand-alone Keystone bill could potentially pass right now.

So when you ask me is it going to be easier, I can’t say yes because in January the Republicans may put a bill together with Keystone and let’s say five other things. See that? And then it passes the House and then it fails in the Senate, or it passes the House, the Senate and the President vetoes it. So my answer is: it is possible right now, right now, I think, to get a clean Keystone bill passed that the President to the United States could actually sign.

You were chatting with the kids in the Marine band over there. What were you talking about?

Well, I’m a huge supporter of the creation of this school. I’ve led the fight here in Louisiana on charter schools. I’m an elected leader on public charter schools. I’ve helped to create more charter schools per capita than anywhere else in the nation. So I visit them frequently and I was just saying that I’ll be there to see them again. Their school is growing. As I said in my speech, we have two charter military schools, first in the nation, and we’re really proud of that. The Pentagon and the military are really interested in using that model all over the country for other schools.

TIME 2014 Election

Despite Midterm ‘Wave,’ Americans Not Particularly Thrilled About GOP Control

Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, center, looks on as U.S. President Barack Obama, left, speaks during a bipartisan, bicameral congressional leadership luncheon at the White House in Washington, D.C., Nov. 7, 2014 Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images

Americans are skeptical of what's to come in remaining years of Obama presidency

Looks like the “meh” election has yielded the expected reaction from the American public. Less than half of Americans are happy to see Republicans take control of Congress, according to a new Pew Research Center survey, and about the same proportion think the Republican “wave” will lead to legislative success.

Republicans have been promising Washington will “function” with the GOP in control of Congress, but Americans in general foresee more of the same over the next two years.

Nearly six-out-of-ten say things will change either “some” or “a lot” with Republicans in control, but when it comes to the partisan divide 55% of Americans expect nothing to change. Almost half of all Americans think Republicans will see their programs passed into law, while 40% disagree.

Following the bevy of Republican wins that guaranteed Sen. Mitch McConnell will likely be the Senate’s next Majority Leader, the Kentucky Republican joined House Speaker John Boehner in touting the myriad legislation they’ll push through Congress. “Now we can get Congress going,” boasts their joint op-ed, published in the Wall Street Journal.

However, Americans are less hopeful that the switch in party control will lead to Washington suddenly functioning. When it comes to legislation Republican leadership is eager to take the lead on, support among Americans is falling. About 51% disapprove of the Affordable Care Act, but detractors are split on how best to handle the President’s signature health law. A whopping 83% of Republicans support building the Keystone XL pipeline, but over the past year support among Democrats has fallen by 11 points. What’s more, Americans are worried Republicans will use their new-found footing in Washington to increase investigations into the White House and Democrats — following a similar pattern of concern expressed when the balance of power shifted. In 2006, according to Pew, Americans had a similar fear when Democrats took control during the final George W. Bush years.

But Americans don’t think Obama would do a better job fixing the nation’s problems than Congress. In 2010, at least 49% of Americans wanted Obama to take the lead on addressing major issues. In 2014, however, nearly equal percentages of Americans would like to see Congress (41%) and Obama (40%) at the helm.

Americans also doubt the President can accomplish much during his last two years in office; the bulk, 59%, say he’ll get little to nothing done — two percentage points less than those asked the same question at the same point in Bush’s term.

Pew surveyed 1,353 adults for this latest report, which was conducted between Nov. 6 and Nov. 9. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 points.

TIME 2014 Election

Republican Dan Sullivan Wins Senate Race in Alaska

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan is seen through balloons as he takes part in a television interview on election night, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Anchorage Alaska.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan is seen through balloons as he takes part in a television interview on election night, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Anchorage Alaska. Ted S. Warren—AP

Defeats Democrat Mark Begich

JUNEAU, Alaska — Republican Dan Sullivan won Alaska’s U.S. Senate race, defeating first-term incumbent Democrat Mark Begich.

Sullivan led Begich by about 8,100 votes on Election Night last week and held a comparable edge after election workers had counted about 20,000 absentee, early-voted and questioned ballots late Tuesday. Thousands more ballots remained to be counted, but the results indicated that Begich could not overcome Sullivan’s lead.

The Alaska seat was initially considered key to the Republicans’ hopes of taking control of the U.S. Senate, but that goal was accomplished before the Alaska race was decided.

Sullivan, in a statement, said he was humbled and sounded a note of inclusion. While it was a hard-fought race, moving forward “I want to emphasize that my door will always be open to all Alaskans,” he said.

“While we have challenges to address, the opportunities in Alaska and our country are limitless,” Sullivan said. “Today, we are going to begin the process of turning our country around and building a brighter future for our children.”

Begich was not conceding. His campaign manager, Susanne Fleek-Green, said in a statement that Begich believes every vote deserves to be counted and will follow the Division of Elections as it continues toward a final count.

Begich is no stranger to come-from-behind wins. In 2008, Republican Sen. Ted Stevens led Begich by about 3,000 votes in a race Begich won about two weeks later by fewer than 4,000 votes.

The dynamics of that race were different, however, with the election coming days after a jury found Stevens guilty in a federal corruption trial. The case was later tossed out by a judge, prompting many Republicans to believe Begich’s win was a fluke.

Republicans in Alaska, as in other states, made the current race a referendum on President Barack Obama and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid. Obama lost in Alaska by wide margins in 2008 and 2012.

On Tuesday, news reporters and observers affiliated with candidates or political parties watched as election workers opened ballots, reviewed those in which voters’ qualifications were questioned and tallied votes in election centers in Juneau and other parts of the state.

Sullivan, a first-time candidate, ran a confident campaign, ignoring the debate schedule Begich released during the primary and setting his own agenda. He also attracted some star power to the state, with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a tea party favorite, and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney rallying support for Sullivan in the waning days of the hotly contested race.

Sullivan pledged to fight federal overreach, talked about the need for an energy renaissance in the U.S.

Begich said Sullivan offered little in the way of proposals for what he would do as senator. Begich touted his clout, including a position on the power Senate Appropriations Committee, and tried to paint sharp contrasts between himself and Sullivan in areas such as women’s health, education and Alaska issues.

Begich, for example, was born and raised in Alaska. He cast Sullivan, who grew up in Ohio, as an outsider, and many of the early attacks by pro-Begich groups keyed in to that theme. That perception of Sullivan made for an at-times uncomfortable debate on fisheries issues, in which questioners grilled Sullivan about his knowledge of one of Alaska’s most important industries.

On several occasions, Sullivan’s wife, Julie Fate Sullivan, an Alaska Native and frequent companion on the campaign trail, appeared in ads defending her husband’s ties to the state and his positions on women’s issues.

Sullivan has roots in Alaska dating to the 1990s but was gone for nearly seven years for military service and work in Washington, D.C., that included working as an assistant secretary of state. He returned to Alaska in 2009, when he was appointed attorney general by then-Gov. Sarah Palin.

He most recently served as Alaska’s natural resources commissioner, a post he left in September 2013, to make his first run for public office.

Sullivan hit the ground running, exhibiting a fundraising prowess that rivaled and during some quarters exceeded that of Begich. Many of his supporters cited his service in the Marine Corps reserves or repeated the oft-repeated GOP refrain that became of hallmark of the campaign — that Begich voted with Obama “97 percent of the time,” a figure that takes into account votes during 2013, many of them on confirmations, on which Obama stated a preference.

Sullivan publicly sought to tamp down expectations of a win, even as campaign members expressed great confidence in a victory in the lead-up to the Nov. 4 election and said the Democrats’ much-talked-about ground game wasn’t all it was made out to be.

It was estimated that tens of millions of dollars were pumped into the state, with Republicans seeing Begich as vulnerable and Democrats trying to hold the seat Begich won in 2008.


TIME Newsmaker Interview

Kasich Takes the Stage

John Kasich
Ohio Governor John Kasich speaks to supporters at the Ohio Republican Party celebration in Columbus, Ohio on Nov. 4, 2014. Tony Dejak—AP

After resounding re-election, the Ohio governor looks to his next campaign.

Less than a week after a rousing, victorious ending to one campaign, newly re-elected Ohio Gov. John Kasich looks as if he’s preparing for another, this time on the national stage.

Throughout his first term as governor, the Republican struggled to manage the complicated politics of his swing state, taking criticism from the left for scaling back the influence of public sector unions and from the right for accepting federal money from Obamacare to expand Medicaid. But his do-it-my-way message worked. Three years ago, Kasich was so unpopular his re-election was a longshot. On Tuesday, he won by 32 percentage points in one of the most politically polarized states in the nation, making inroads with women and minorities across the state, as he scooped up independent votes.

The performance instantly made Kasich a presidential contender—donors are already reaching out with invitations and Republican groups are inviting him to speak. Kasich, 62, isn’t shying away from the attention, but he’s not in a hurry either. Speaking with TIME Monday afternoon, the Governor said he wasn’t ready to decide whether to run for the White House. But he showed signs he is seriously considering it: in the coming months, for example, Kasich will launch a national campaign in support of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, just the sort of crypto-campaign that can test the presidential waters and build a national brand.

Kasich ran unsuccessfully for president once before, in 2000. At the time, he was a 16-year incumbent in the House of Representatives and Chairman of the House Budget Committee, and his campaign never gained traction: he bowed out even before the Iowa Straw Poll as George W. Bush dominated attention of the political and donor classes.

If he runs again, Kasich would likely find it easier to gain traction in a crowded, but divided field. That’s due in part to the good fortune Ohio has seen over the last few years. Though his re-election was buoyed by the implosion of his Democratic opponent’s scandal-plagued campaign in August, Kasich also took credit for the state’s booming economy.

In an interview with TIME, Kasich talked about his victory, what he hopes to accomplish in his second term, and how he’s working to maintain work-life balance as he contemplates his political future.

You won re-election by 32 points…in Ohio. How did that happen?

Kasich: I think that we had a program that covered really—I like to call it the 360 program. We build a stronger economy; help with tax cuts and some reform of regulations, and balancing budgets and all of that. The economy is so much stronger than when I came in four years ago. And in addition to that, once the economy’s strong, which is the most important thing you can do, then you have an obligation to help the people I like to say live in the shadows. So, whether it’s the mentally ill, the drug addicted, the working poor, we’ve been able to get insurance for families that have an autistic child, the developmentally disabled have been helped. Minorities feel now—I can’t speak for all of them—but a number of the leaders feel there is a place for them. So everyone was included, Ohio is doing better, and I think it’s become a lot more united. And I think as a result of that, that’s why you get results. We’re basically an ideas administration. We don’t rest on our laurels, we don’t play a lot of politics. We look at problems, try to fix them, and come up with new and cool things that’ll help the state.

How would you classify your politics? Are you preaching compassionate conservativism?

Kasich: Well no one’s ever been able to put me in a box and I’m not about to start putting myself in there.

What does your re-election mean for Ohio and its politics?

I don’t think there’s a sea change. People today, not just in Ohio, but in the country, they want solutions. They want to believe that things are going to get better. We have for the first time in a dozen years 60% of Ohioans feel that the state is headed in the right direction. I think it should not be interpreted as anything other than you ought to come to Ohio, you gotta tell people what you want to do and how their lives are going to be improved. And whoever does the best job of that is the person who’s going to have the best results.

What’s your top priority for the second term?

Kasich: It’s going to be a lot more of the same. It’s job creation, making sure that our safety net programs are only a net and not a trap. That they have to provide an opportunity for people to get on their feet. Continuing to include all Ohioans in what we do. It’s education, it’s workforce, it’s reforming higher ed. We can chew gum and walk at the same time out here. We’ll have a very expansive agenda.

Your victory is already starting talk about you running for president in 2016.

Kasich: Well, what I’m excited about is that people are showing a lot of interest in the things that we’ve done out here, and I think that’s good. That makes me happy—it’s pleasing to me, I should say—that people are going to take a very hard look at what we’re doing here. And I think the process of being hopeful, being really opportunity oriented, not just in rhetoric but in action, showing that no one get’s left behind, not just by talking about it but by doing it, I think is really a key. And not just sitting around with your finger in the air trying to figure out who’s going to like what you do. Take into account where the public is, but lead, lead. Don’t try to just figure out what the polls say, what the poll-driven programs are. I mean, I don’t look at polls, I pay no attention to them. I’m going to pay attention to the public, and the sense of where the public is on certain things, but you have to lead. And so I’m pleased that as a result of this—it was really an unbelievable win—that people are going to start to say how did it happen. And they are saying it now. It gives me a chance to talk about what I think public life ought to be about, which is to lift everyone. It’s not about what your party is, it’s not about which group do you appeal to, it’s about being in this and trying to build and trying to lift everyone, regardless of who they are, regardless of whether they vote for you. That’s not the point of this business.

Do you think too many politicians are too focused on the polls?

Kasich: Why don’t you decide that.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker appeared to criticize you over the weekend for taking Medicaid expansion funding. How do you defend it?

Kasich: I don’t defend it, I’m for it. I’m not defending anything.

Have you seen those comments?

Kasich: No, I really don’t have any reaction—I haven’t seen these comments, it wouldn’t matter if I did see them. You know, we’re doing what we’re doing here in Ohio, and it’s working for people. It’s helping people, it’s lifting people, and that’s what I’m so comfortable with and very pleased about.

So you’d use a presidential campaign to spread your message?

Kasich: I’m going to be spreading it one way or another. I’m going to be out campaigning aggressively for a balanced budget amendment, I assume I’m going to be making some speeches, where people are going to want to say ‘tell us what you did.’ And, I’m not kind of anxious to… You know, we only did a handful of interviews. I think I was asked to go on virtually every show, and I just sort of said, look, we just had an election. It’s an important time to get some rest, to recharge the batteries.

That must be hard, trying to decompress after the campaign?

Kasich: I was telling one of my colleagues the other day, I was a congressman for 18 years and in the legislature for four and at that point my job really overshadowed my life. But I’ve got a good mix between doing my job, having that responsibility, and having a normal life. And I live in my own home, I don’t live in the governors’ mansion. I play golf, I work out, I lead a very normal life, which probably surprises a lot of people. It’s not unusual to see me just right in the neighborhood. But in terms of the campaign, that’s a little bit of a different situation. Let me just give you some statistics. In less than three years, I put 250,000 miles on the cars in which I travel. And in the last 100 days, since Labor Day, I think I did well over 100 events. So it’s like running a marathon with a sprint at the end, which of course all great marathoners do, and at some point you’ve got to stop running and rest up. So I’m trying to get away from it. I’m trying to recharge. It’s important if you want to have good perspective, you’ve got to make sure that you’re rested. So I’m working at it. I’m exercising, I’m playing golf, I’m trying to get away, spend some time with my family. But I think I have a ways to go before I’m fully recharged.

TIME 2014 Election

Exclusive: Women Turned Out for Hillary in the Midterms

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Campaigns With Jeanne Shaheen In New Hampshire
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) campaigns with U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan (L) at Nashua Community College in Nashua, N.H. on Nov. 2, 2014. Darren McCollester—Getty Images

Clinton's appearances on the campaign trail gave discernable bumps in female support to various Democrats, according to an analysis by Correct the Record, a pro-Hillary group

In the aftermath of the Democratic shellacking, episode 2, in the 2014 midterm elections, many pointed fingers at Hillary Clinton as an electoral loser.

“Somebody should ask Hillary Democrats why they got wiped out tonight. Clearly, Hillary is yesterday’s news,” Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican and rumored 2016 presidential hopeful, said in an email to Breitbart News — just one of the many times he linked the Democratic drubbing to the party’s likeliest 2016 presidential candidate.

Added another 2016 potential GOP candidate, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, “I think in many ways [Clinton] was the big loser on Tuesday because she embodies everything that is wrong with Washington,” he told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. Even journalists piled on. “The loser from last night in the a 2016 context: Hillary Clinton,” said Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin.

Not so fast, says pro-Clinton group Correct the Record. The group, linked to Democratic Super PAC American Bridge, compiled polling data that shows Clinton delivered discernible bumps in female support to most of the candidates for whom she appeared or stumped, according to an analysis obtained exclusively by TIME.

Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina and Colorado’s Mark Udall both saw three percentage point bumps amongst women after Clinton appeared with them in the final weeks of campaigning, according to an analysis of polls before and after Clinton’s visit by the group.

Though both Hagan and Udall lost, Clinton gave incumbent Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper in Colorado a turbo charge: his lead amongst women nearly tripled from a 4.8% advantage a to 12% lead after Hillary’s visit, and Hickenlooper eked out a win.

In New Hampshire and Illinois, incumbent Democratic Govs. Maggie Hassan and Pat Quinn both saw eight percentage point boosts, though it wasn’t enough to save Quinn. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and Michigan Senate candidate Gary Peters saw their support amongst women go up five percentage points apiece after Clinton’s visits.

Georgia gubernatorial hopeful Jason Carter got a 4 percentage point bump, though it didn’t help him to victory. And Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana got a 2 percentage point boost, helping her beat out Bill Cassidy 42% to 41%, though she didn’t avoid a Dec. 6 run off.

“Women’s support for Clinton translated to support for the candidates she backed in 2014, despite an overwhelming trend against Democrats in the election,” Correct the Record said in a statement released with the analysis, pointing to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s success with female voters in 2013 after Clinton campaigned for him as further evidence of the trend.

Of course, much of this support could simply be women breaking in the final month of the campaign one way or another. It’s impossible to say if Clinton was the deciding factor. And, while support amongst women who voted was boosted in each case, the number of women voting was at the lowest levels since the GOP wave of 2010, meaning that off-presidential year voters were not successfully turned out at the polls.

That said, it’s clear Clinton didn’t have a negative impact on female voters, and her underlying message of women’s empowerment could remain a potent one for 2016, should she run, where women are expected to show up in larger numbers at the polls.

Read next: Another Year of the Woman? Not Exactly

TIME 2014 Election

Voter Turnout in Midterm Elections Hits 72-Year Low

Voters cast their ballots at a polling station in Alhambra, Calif. on November 4, 2014.
Voters cast their ballots at a polling station in Alhambra, Calif. on November 4, 2014. Frederic J. Brown—AFP/Getty Images

The last time voter turnout was this low, the U.S. was fighting WWII

The last time voter turnout for a national election was as low as it was on Nov.4, Hitler was still in power, and Mitch McConnell was only nine months old.

Only 36.4% of eligible voters voted in this year’s midterm elections, down from 40.9% who voted in 2010, according to preliminary analysis by Michael McDonald at the University of Florida. The last time voter turnout was that low was 1942, when only 33.9% of voters cast ballots, according to the United States Elections Project.

That was also a year that the U.S. established the European Theater of Operations in WWII, so a large share of the voting population was a little busy doing other things.

Voter turnout in presidential elections is historically much higher than in midterms– 58.2% of eligible voters voted in 2012, and 61.6% voted in 2008, the highest turnout since 1968. In other words, turnout for Obama’s first presidential election was almost double the 2014 midterm turnout.


TIME 2014 Election

The Tom Steyer Strategy: Billionaire Activist Reflects on 2014

Tom Steyer Green Giant
Tom Steyer is building an army from his base in San Francisco Jason Madara for TIME

Despite mixed returns at the polls, the billionaire businessman remains bullish his climate campaign can change politics

In 2014, Tom Steyer emerged as the Democratic Party’s great green hope. The billionaire financier pledged to sink a chunk of his fortune into a campaign to make climate change a central issue in the midterm elections, and he delivered on his promise. Steyer’s political-action committee, NextGen Climate, spent some $65 million during the 2014 cycle. It ran ads in seven hand-picked states, assembled a sophisticated field organization and built a sprawling database of committed supporters.

Was it money well spent? If you measure success at the ballot box, Steyer’s return on investment may seem skimpy.

Just three of the seven candidates NextGen supported were victorious on Tuesday. Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen fended off a challenge from Scott Brown in New Hampshire; Democratic gubernatorial nominee Tom Wolf coasted to victory in Pennsylvania; and Democratic Senate candidate Gary Peters won an open seat in Michigan.

But Steyer’s group lost competitive Senate races in Colorado and Iowa, states into which it poured nearly $12 million, and which may prove the difference in the battle for control of the chamber. (Not all ballots have been counted in the Alaska Senate contest, and Louisiana is headed for a December runoff.) NextGen also came out on the wrong side of tight gubernatorial races in Florida and Maine, despite heavy investment to dislodge incumbent Republicans Rick Scott and Paul LePage.

But Steyer is sanguine about the election’s outcome. In an interview with TIME on Thursday, he pointed to NextGen’s ability to push climate issues toward the forefront of campaigns, as well as its efforts to begin the construction of a political machine that can become a powerful force in coming years.

“In terms of the things that we can control, we felt like wow—we way over-performed our expectations,” Steyer says, noting that the group surpassed its target of amassing a quarter-million climate-driven voters by 100,000 and beat its goal by building an email list of a million names. “Climate was a top-tier issue in every one of the states we were working on,” Steyer says, “Which is a huge change—very different from 2012, very different from 2010.”

NextGen forced Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst to defend her climate position in Iowa, and Colorado Republican Senate candidate Cory Gardner was sufficiently cowed to run ads touting his support for wind energy in the state. But both GOP candidates prevailed. And in both states, voters declined to rank climate in the top quartet of issues, according to CNN exit polls, instead listing foreign policy, healthcare, the economy and illegal immigration as their top priorities.

In Florida, Scott made only fleeting gestures to the environmental community, and in Maine Steyer’s group failed to oust LePage, who calls climate change a hoax. NextGen’s efforts may have put Republicans on the defensive, but that’s a relatively modest achievement for tens of millions of dollars.

With the GOP poised to take control of Congress in January, the prospects for positive legislation on environmental issues have dimmed. Republicans are preparing a push to approve the Keystone XL pipeline—”a terrible idea,” especially amid plunging oil prices, Steyer says—as well as a likely effort to green-light drilling on public lands. But Steyer says that while NextGen will stay focused on educating people about the economic and environmental benefits of pursuing progressive energy policy, he’s conscious of the limits of its power to affect the legislative process.

“Do I think it’s possible for us to educate people about the facts on the Keystone XL pipeline and influence their thinking by making them aware of what the underlying issues are? Sure,” he says. “But we definitely can’t control this issue” in Congress.

The same goes for this week’s outcome at the polls. Steyer chalks up the defeats in close races to the headwinds of waging a campaign in an off-year cycle, when a second-term president with foundering approval ratings buffeted Democratic candidates. “There was a Republican wave that has nothing to do with us, and in certain of those races, it swept over us,” he says. “It’s something we can’t control.”

And so Steyer hasn’t wavered in his political or financial commitments. NextGen is “not a drive-by super PAC,” he says. “We’re going to build political assets, we’re going to build an organization, we’re choosing states that have national significance. All those things are [still] true … regardless of the outcome. So I feel really good about what we did, and I feel really good about where we’re going.”

TIME 2014 Election

Republican Wave Floods States

Republicans hold a record number of seats in state legislature as a result of 2014 election

To say it was a good night for Republicans on the state level would be an understatement. Republicans now control 23 state governments outright and are on track to hold more state seats than they have since the late 1920s, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

After Tuesday, the GOP has the upper hand in 69 of the 99 country’s legislative chambers. In Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and West Virginia at least one chamber flipped from Democratic to Republican majorities. Results have yet to come down in Colorado, where Gov. John Hickenlooper was barely able to stave off a Republican challenge to his reelection. In many states Republicans are not simply the majority, they’ve secured a veto-proof supermajority, including in Florida and Missouri.

“Voters overwhelmingly voted for a new, open, innovative future for their families by electing state level Republicans in record numbers across the nation, including in traditionally blue states,” said Matt Walter, the president of the Republican State Leadership Committee in a statement. Walters said Republicans were successful largely thanks to their recruitment of a diverse set of candidates, including the youngest lawmaker in the U.S.

The payoffs for the GOP victories the state-level could be substantial. In states where the Republicans have single-party control they have shown willingness to advance aggressive party agendas: think North Carolina during the 2013 session. Come 2020, when state lawmakers will again be tasked with redrawing electoral maps, party control will be crucial.

Democrats haven’t lost hope.“Republicans had a great night,” director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) Michael Sargeant says. “But our operations were able to make sure we limited the damage in some places. ”

Democrats raised a reported $17 million and made about 2 million voter contacts this cycle. Sargeant says that work resulted in Democrats holding on to majorities in key states including the Maine House, the Iowa Senate, and the Kentucky House, which he says will ensure Republican agendas don’t sail through in those states.

“Those victories along with some others were critical to make sure they’re still balances,” Sargeant says.

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