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Bessent: Don’t confuse a Republican Senate win with a mandate

President Barack Obama meets with Senate Minority Leader

President Barack Obama meets with Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. on June 18, 2014. Credit: Getty Images / Alex Wong

Voters handed Republicans control of the U.S. Senate. The GOP will read it as a conservative mandate.

That’s no doubt the message some voters wanted to send on Tuesday. But for others, it may just have been disgust with the status quo. Disgruntled voters clearly wanted  change. About 66 percent say the country is on the wrong track.

But if ballot referenda and state legislatures are any indication, the course correction voters want may not be a sharp right.

Voters in Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C., were weighing whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use. If approved, those places would join Colorado and Washington state that legalized marijuana in 2012.

Raising the minimum wage was on the ballot in four states —  something 10 states already have done this year.

And in Oregon and Colorado, voters were deciding whether foods with genetically modified ingredients will be required to label them to alert consumers.

In Washington state, residents voted on whether to require background checks for all gun purchasers. And California residents were asked whether to quadruple the limit on pain-and-suffering awards in medical malpractice lawsuits.

That’s a decidedly progressive agenda on social issues, one at odds with what Republican majorities in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives support. So, would GOP control of Congress signal a conservative mandate? Maybe not.

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