After the stunning Republican gains in the midterm elections, pundits everywhere are trying to figure out what the results mean for 2016, or not.  What message Republicans won on, of course, will help determine what they should focus on over the next two years. 

But the bottom line about what the Republican wave might mean for 2016 is this: anti-gay themes, including vocal opposition to gay marriage, were almost completely absent from Republican campaigns, even those of the most conservative winners.  And when it did come up, as William Saletan recently wrote at Slate.com, Republicans retreated from debating the issue: “On social issues…. Republicans are mumbling, cringing, and ducking.  They don’t want the election to be about these issues, even in red states.”  

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Senator-elect Joni Ernst from Iowa, for example, is now one of the new Republican stars, and she was heavily backed by social conservatives.  Yet her campaign website contained not one mention of gay rights or gay marriage.  Not one mention of traditional family values, the usual code phrase for opposition to gay rights. Instead, she focused on Obamacare, creating jobs, tax reform, and protecting the unborn, among other standard Republican issues, and that’s what voters responded to.  

Senator-elect Cory GardnerCory GardnerProtesters interrupt Senate Republican’s speech over healthcare Interior recommends preserving Colorado site's monument status Overnight Energy: Exxon sues feds over M fine | Deputy Interior pick advances | Oil concerns hold up Russia sanctions push MORE from Colorado is another member of the freshman class, defeating Democrat incumbent Sen. Mark UdallMark UdallDemocratic primary could upend bid for Colorado seat Picking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Gorsuch's critics, running out of arguments, falsely scream 'sexist' MORE

What issues did he win on?  Repeal Obamacare? Check.  Encourage domestic energy production?  Check.  Reduce taxes and spending?  Check.  Gay rights and same-sex marriage?  Nowhere to be seen

In fact, in one of the very few statements he ever made on this issue, shortly after the recent Supreme Court decision to let stand a lower court decision throwing out Colorado’s ban on same-sex unions, Gardner stated simply, "This issue is in the hands of the courts and we must honor their legal decisions."  

There were, of course, responses to occasional questions about marriage or other gay rights issues by some of the winning Republicans, but in fact none of them, even those deeply opposed to same-sex marriage, made this issue anything close to the centerpiece of their campaigns.  In short, there is not a shred of evidence that the Republican sweep was motivated in any significant way by the recent court decisions that have made same-sex marriage legal in 33 states and the District of Columbia.  The response to these developments on the part of most voters, including Republicans, has been a collective yawn. 

And in those blue states where Republican candidates won unexpectedly, it was their support for gay rights that made them acceptable to enough Democrat voters to win their races. 

In Maryland, a deeply blue state that voted to adopt same-sex marriage two years ago, Republican gubernatorial winner Larry Hogan, who once opposed marriage equality, changed his views over the past year, telling media outlets that he had “evolved” from a supporter of civil unions to a supporter of marriage equality.  His campaign even ran a commercial stating his intent to leave marriage equality in place if he won.  He did so, by a significant margin. 

In Illinois, Governor-elect Bruce Rauner (R) explicitly refused to discuss social issues other than to say the issue of same-sex marriage should have been put to the voters of the state.  But like Hogan, he pledged during his campaign to “leave the marriage equality law alone,” and in the process, attracted enough Democrats to win election in the president’s home state. 

And in Massachusetts, the state where the gay marriage debate began 10 years ago, Republican Governor-elect Charlie Baker has been not only a strong gay rights advocate but an outspoken supporter of same-sex marriage, giving swing voters and Democrats another reason to vote Republican.  They did, and Baker won. 

Republicans now control 31 governorships, and Governors Hogan, Rauner, and Baker offer a clear lesson to Republicans about how to broaden their appeal and win in traditionally Democratic states. 

Their wins also point the way to how Republicans can once again be competitive in presidential contests.  The party did remarkably well with women, younger voters, and Hispanics this year, no doubt in part due to the lack of anti-gay and other hateful rhetoric. 

Keep it up, and Republicans will give Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump Jr. adds to legal team ahead of Senate meeting Trump: Democrats, Russians laughing at 'phony Russian Witch Hunt' Scaramucci makes Sunday shows debut with vow to stop WH leaks MORE a run for her money in 2016. 

Lampo is author of A Fundamental Freedom: Why Republicans, Conservatives, and Libertarians Should Support Gay Rights and serves on the national board of Log Cabin Republicans.