Two tea party-backed candidates – one in Michigan and one in Arizona – were dethroned in rare recalls. Voters in Ohio rejected a law, pushed by small-government conservatives – that limited unions’ collective bargaining power, and voters in Maine smashed the Republican-led ban on Election-Day voter registration.

Those and other developments suggest voters recoiled a bit from their stance in the 2010 election, when tea-party-backed conservatives won power at the state level and took control of the US House of Representatives. Subsequent political standoffs over the national debt limit and rising tensions in Washington over the direction of the country appear to have soured the public.