Ready for 2010
Last night was the best election night for Republicans as a whole since 2004. The year 2007 was nice, especially here in Mississippi, but the GOP and Democrats swapped contests in Louisiana and Kentucky essentially resulting in a draw for the evening. There is no other way to spin it: last night was a win for the Republicans. And more then having two new office holders, the GOP faithful should feel like they have the winds at their back. One year ago, we were lectured on the transformative election of 2008 and how we would be relegated to permanent minority status as a regional party. Of course, that was as accurate as predictions of the Democrats demise after 2004.
Even before the races were called, the spin machine was busy saying how this wasn’t a referendum on Obama- as if that made the wins less meaningful. I generally agree with that statement. After all, Obama hasn’t even been in office a year. That said, the candidates (especially in New Jersey) did everything they could to tie themselves to Obama. He sure couldn’t save them or convince minorities and young people to vote.
The other statement we hear continuously is how these elections were part of pattern by these two states in voting in opposition to the party in charge. Talk about an excuse. Then why did you bother to run a candidate? Spend millions on the contests? Send Obama to campaign when he could be focusing on other issues?
Read all of my 2009 analysis below the fold.
I even heard one Democrat say that the most important race was NY-23. I obviously would have liked to see Doug Hoffman win, and it would have capped off a great night, but lets think about that for a moment. Obama carried the district in 2008. He then proceeded to tap the Republican Congressman from the district for his cabinet. Do you honestly think Obama and crew didn’t think they had a good chance of winning the seat when he made that decision? More than anything, that specific race detailed the incompetence with many GOP leaders. Its one thing to find someone who is a social moderate or liberal. But an economic liberal as well? That’s called a Democrat. I hope we do away with committees picking candidates from now on. The GOP has a good chance of carrying this district in 2010 if they are unified.
To speak specifically about Virginia, Bob McDonnell ran about as good of a race as you can and really fits the mold of the perfect GOP candidate. McDonnell not only faced off against Creigh Deeds, he also faced the DNC (which current Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine is the head of) and the Washington Post who shredded any resemblance of objectivity as Deeds’ PR machine. McDonnell never flinched or moved off message. He is a conservative that appealed to moderates and Independents (in much the same way Obama did as a liberal). He mixed key national issues with local issues, and had huge results to show for it. Obama carried the state by seven points one year ago; McDonnell carried it by more than 17 points last night. That’s a 24 point swing for those scoring at home. The Virginia GOP swept the statewide offices and increased their majority in the House of Delegates. To realize what a dramatic swing this is from 2008, check out this map of the results. Then check out the 2008 map and pay particular attention to Northern Virginia. The GOP needs to follow McDonnell’s strategy in every way possible.
As for New Jersey, Obama carried it by about 15 points in 2008. Democrat Jon Corzine couldn’t get 45 percent. Even with a third-party candidate, Chris Christie still won by about 100,000 votes (with a few dead people still voting). Everyone knew which way Virginia was headed; and we were all focusing on the Garden State. The media will blame it on the anti-incumbency mood, but when you lose such a deep blue state it sends warning signs to the highest political offices in the country.
One additional interesting point about the anti-incumbency mood. Yes, Corzine was unpopular and viewed as a failure. But why was it that way? It is because of the path adopted by Corzine. He adopted the liberal platform of higher taxes and more spending (the same platform utilized by Obama). This was a referendum on Corzine- because his policies failed.
About that anti-incumbency mood, it is certainly there. I was amused at Democrats who used it as an excuse. Who do you think the incumbents are? I imagine they don’t want to admit it on TV, but in the end this was very bad for the Democrats- no spinning that.
And how about Haley Barbour. He assumes the role as head of the Republican Governors Association amid the Mark Sandford scandal, and proceeds to oversee the two big wins. You can say he is in the right place at the right time, but I like my chances with him in control. Sure I’d like to see Haley run in 2012, but I believe he may be able to do more good behind the scenes.