At this writing, close to midnight on Election we have a good Idea of the results. The GOP has taken over the state houses in Virginia and New Jersey and they have seen major gains in those states legislatures. Mike Bloomberg was reelected by a whisker and in NY 23 Doug Hoffman has lost to Bill Owens.
The talking-heads heads have been talking all night and quite frankly very few of them have it right. To be honest very little of this election was about President Obama, but in the end there will be implications for the POTUS.
- For a Democrat, you have to be a really lousy governor to lose your reelection bid in New Jersey. Jon Corizine was that governor. He raised taxes to almost crippling levels during his tenure and broke almost every campaign promise he made. This is a state where the POTUS might have helped. It wasn’t until Obama’s people got involved with the campaign did Jon Corizine come back from being double-digit behind.
- NY-23 has been seen as the battle of the crazy-right wingers vs a poor moderate Republican. In actually, Hoffman would have been an also-ran if the GOP nominated a moderate, instead they nominated a very liberal Dede Scozzafava, who was for card check, Porkulus, and the government health care option on top of having the ACORN endorsement. Confusion has reigned in this district. If Hoffman won it would not have been a bell-weather of the strength of the conservative movement. Dede was an awful pick. Hoffman’s loss it is not a rejection of conservatism either. One year from now Scozzafava will be a democrat, and the congressional race might very well be a re-match of the Owens vs Hoffma two for NY 23. This one will less of a “FUBAR-type” effort by the local Republican committee.
- Michael Bloomberg’s razor thin victory can probably be chalked up to a lack of voter enthusiasm. Bloomberg’s supporters may have felt the Mayor had the race in the bag and stayed home. One warning to NYers, in the last fifty years there has been have been four other Mayors who served three terms, Wagner, Lindsay, Koch and Guliani, in each case the third term was no where as successful as the first two.
- Virginia was a GOP landslide. As expected, Bob McDonnell cruised to an easy victory in the Virginia governor’s race, Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling easily won reelection and Ken Cuccinelli, the GOP’s nominee for attorney general, handily beat Democrat Steve Shannon. Bolling won by the narrowest spread of the three, “only” a 13 percentage points victory.
Neither of the state-wide campaigns were run as a referendum on the president, and most voters participating in the exit polls said the POTUS had nothing to do with their vote. But the bad news for the President is that while the polls said they liked Obama– they hate the economy.
most striking were economic views: A vast 89 percent in New Jersey and 85 percent in Virginia said they were worried about the direction of the nation’s economy in the next year; 56 percent and 53 percent, respectively, said they were “very” worried about it.
Voters who expressed the highest levels of economic discontent heavily favored the Republican candidates in both states – underscoring the challenge Obama and his party may face in 2010 if economic attitudes don’t improve. The analogy is to 1994, when nearly six in 10 voters said the economy was in bad shape, and they favored the out-of-power Republicans by 26 points, helping the GOP to a 52-seat gain and control of Congress for the first time in 42 years.
If unemployment is still hovering around the 10% mark a year from now, the GOP may see they same type of seat gain as 1994.
The Key Independent voter block switched parties in both NJ and Va. It was the independent voter who gave Barack Obama his margin of victory in 2008, now they seem to have gone to the GOP side.
Obama split Virginia independents with John McCain in 2008, en route to becoming the first Democratic presidential nominee to win the state since 1964. McDonnell, though, won independents by a thumping 66-33 percent.
Corzine, too, lost independents in New Jersey by a wide margin, 60-30 percent – the reason he lost a state where Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 10 points.
Perhaps the biggest negative implication for the president has little to do with public reaction to the two big losses and much to do with the reaction of others in his party. In Virginia he started helping out the Democratic candidate Deeds and when the polls didn’t tighten up the POTUS threw him under the bus. In NJ the president’s involvement tightened the race and made it close. But in politics close does not win. It comes down as Obama being shut out.
The revelation that Obama cannot help other Democrats get elected is, affect his ability to convince wavering “Blue Dog” Democrats that supporting him in the health care take over in return for his campaign appearances in their districts will do any more for them than it did for Jon Corzine or Creigh Deeds. That is the short term question. Will they gamble on upsetting their voters now with the hopes of the President saving them later. The answer to that question is going to make or break Obamacare.
In the end it was a good day for the GOP and one of concern for the Progressives.It was a game-changer for neither side.