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The Midterms’ Real Winner? Independents and Fiscal Sanity (Maybe).

TIME

You can forgive Republicans for thinking the midterm elections were all about them. Hell, they picked up seven Senate seats — and legislative control — from Democrats and added at least 10 seats to their House majority (some races are not yet finalized). Controversial GOP governors such as Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Florida’s Rick Scott withstood tough re-election challenges and more state legislatures are in Republican hands than ever before.

Yet Republicans mistake the meaning of the midterms at their own peril. These elections were a particularly frank repudiation of Barack Obama and the past six years of failed stimulus, disastrous foreign policy, and rotten economic news. Even the president’s historic health-care reform remains a negative with voters. But if the GOP thinks it has a mandate to return to the equally unpopular bailout economics and social conservatism of the George W. Bush years, it too will be sent packing…

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