Here we go- the first “referendum” on President Barack Obama. Virginia, New Jersey and New York are the focus. Looks like a rough night ahead for the White House though “Republican” victories, particularly in upstate New York’s 23rd congressional district, may not necessarily bode well for the GOP nationally.
This is the race where the moderate Republican candidate pulled out, endorsed the Democrat, and an independent conservative is leading in the polls. This is a very conservative district that barely went for Obama and never elects Dems. Really, never. Here are the percentages for the Democratic candidates going back 27 years, courtesy Jed Lewison of the DailyKos:
2008 – 35%
2006 – 37%
2004 – 29%
2002 – 0%
2000 – 23%
1998 – 21%
1996 – 25%
1994 – 18%
1992 – 21%
1990 – 38%
1988 – 25%
1986 – 0%
1984 – 29%
1982 – 28%
When Doug Hoffman wins tonight, Republicans will declare a great victory for the “tea party movement,” Sarah Palin and the various more right-wing elements of the party. Well, it is a friendly district for those folks but nationally it will mean- not a lot. You win national elections in this country by going for the great middle. You’ve got your 30% on either side of the political spectrum, but it’s the 40% in the middle that decide most election outcomes. The shrill voices on the right will not appeal to the great middle just like shrill voices on the left don’t either. This “victory” for conservative forces will have the effect of souring moderate Republicans on their own party.
Virginia is a lost cause tonight for the Dems. The Dem has no appeal and popular Virginia Governor Tim Kane has no coattails. Neither really, does the President, not in Virginia. He didn’t win it by much and really what we’re seeing here tonight is public disenchantment with the state of the economy. Recent positive GDP figures mean nothing when you’ve hit 10% national unemployment. People are hurting everywhere and it will be hell on any incumbant party. Plus, there’s the historical record. Virginia’s off-year Gubernatorial elections are always won by the party that’s NOT in the White House. It’s like clockwork.
Which brings us to Gov. Corzine and New Jersey. Deeply unpopular but in a very Democratic state. Looks like a GOP pick-up to me. Both because of the economy and Corzine’s media campaign. Living in the New York/New Jersey market, I’ve been subjected to a heavy dose of the Corzine ads which have been just awful. Basically, they’ve featured unflattering video and stills of Chris Christie making the following case against him- don’t vote for him, he’s fat.
Anyone who’s ever read any recent studies on obesity in this country can tell you this was not a smart move. What the hell was the Corzine media strategy team thinking? Let’s appeal to every thin, latte-drinking, white-wine sipping blue-blood in the state and really piss off people who like to eat Double Whoppers with cheese!
Those Bubba visits to McDonald’s during the Clinton years were a lot more politically astute than most people realize.
So, it’s a likely Republican sweep that will cast doubt on the President’s effectiveness just when he’s trying to push health care through. But that’s all short-term punditry talking. Anyone looking at tea leaves to get a clue about the 2010 or 2012 elections had better look at the remnants from another cup. All this tonight will mean basically two things; people are pissed about the economy and Republicans have a civil war on their hands and are likely to end up with a smaller tent.