Since the elections last week, a number of conservative politicians and political pundits have suggested that the Republican Party's wins were a mandate. The question is, a mandate for what?
Republicans didn't have a national issue that they rode to victory. Some Republicans ran on the belief that the economy was broken and need to be fixed, while others suggested the economy was flourishing under their tutelage. Many Republicans resorted to fear mongering over the faint threats of ISIS and Ebola. Essentially, the only issue that Republican candidates agreed on was making this election about President Barack Obama. While effective, this is hardly an endorsement of standard Republican policy.
The reality is that the congressional Republican agenda stands in stark contrast to the interests of the general public. While Republican legislators have voted over 50 times on some form of repeal of the Affordable Care Act (affectionately known as Obamacare) only 39 percent of Americans support a repeal. Some 57% want to keep the law in place.
Republican legislators' views on Obamacare are just one of many topics where their opinion diverges from voters.
For years, Republicans have been looking for ways to eliminate a woman's right to choose, however only 22 percent of the public agrees with this stance. Even in deeply red states, "personhood" measures have been soundly defeated.
Many Republican lawmakers have fought tooth and nail to keep same sex couples from enjoying the benefits of marriage in spite of the fact that such bigotry has been deemed unconstitutional by a number of courts.
All told, some 42 percent of Americans currently agree with the Republican position. But perhaps worst yet for these Republicans is that the data show that nearly 80 percent of adults between the age of 18 and 29 support marriage equality.
President Obama made income inequality a top concern for his administration, but Republicans have so far stood in the way of any meaningful legislation to address what many economists see as a serious concern for economic growth. This despite the reality that 67 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the current wealth distribution.
The power of the NRA to manipulate politicians, especially Republicans, resulted in the death of a bill that would have approved universal background checks despite the fact that 92 percent of voters and 92 percent of gun owners support such a measure.
When discussing climate change, many Republican have resorted to the party approved talking point of "I'm not a scientist". Apparently they believe their lack of knowledge is a valid excuse to act in opposition to what 84% of those who are scientist agree on.
A full 81 percent of Americans believe we should have net neutrality instead of offering the Republican-backed position of "fast lanes".
More than 8 in 10 Americans supported a Senate bill that would have given illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship. Unfortunately, this bill was shelved by the Republican-controlled House.
Republicans stand in opposition to legalizing pot despite the increasing number of states that have voted in favor of decriminalization.
Public education and teachers in particular have come under attacks by Republicans across the country, even though 75 percent of parents are satisfied with their child's education. So while Republicans continue to sell the idea of a crisis in education that can only be fixed by eliminating teachers unions, paying teachers less, and corporatizing students, Americans believe that lack of funding is the biggest problem currently facing education. Additionally, two thirds of Americans say they would pay more taxes to help struggling cash strapped urban schools.
Americans also disagree with Republicans on the use of vouchers in public education with 56 percent of responding against using public funds for private schools.
This is also true of vouchers for Medicare, where only 34 percent of Americans support such a change.
Of course these only represent a small portion of the divide that exists between Republican politicians and the general public. Eighty percent of Americans are against the Citizens United ruling, only 28 percent of Americans agree with the Republican assertion that we spend too little on the military, 83 percent of Americans are against an increase in student loan rates, 55 percent of Americans believe capital gains should be taxed at the same rate as other income not at a lower rate (or at zero) like many Republican legislators believe, just 40 percent of Americans support the Republican position of cutting food stamps, and 60 percent of Americans favor raising taxes on the rich.
In the end the best thing Republicans had going for them in this election was the fact that they weren't in the same party as President Obama. But it would be a huge mistake for them to act as though this was an endorsement of their policies -- a mistake they seem likely to make. A mistake that seems destined to be part of the 2016 Republican autopsy.