Today's handful of state elections are
receiving wide attention for what they do and don't say about national politics. These are the most important races and the Wire's coverage of what they mean: Virginia governor
, New Jersey governor
, New York City mayor
, Maine's gay marriage law
, New York congressional race
. (More on NY-23 here
.) Conservatives are already reevaluating national strategy
on the basis of today's expected results: Republican Bob McDonnell will
likely win Virginia, Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York City,
third-party candidate Doug Hoffman in New York State, with both Maine
and New Jersey contested. In aggregate, what do today's elections mean
for national politics and what do they portend for the big races in
2010 and President Obama's reelection campaign in 2012?
- The End of Moderates Rush Limbaugh foresees
the deaths of moderate Blue Dog Democrats and of moderate "RINO"
(Republican in name only) Republicans. He pegs it to the three-way NY-23
Congressional race (background here).
"[Republican Dede] Scozzafava has screwed every RINO in the country. We
could say that she's guilty of bestiality. Everyone can see just how
dangerous they are. You know, 2010 might be a nightmare for PETA. Two
animals might become extinct: RINOs and Blue Dog Democrats. Pelosi's
going to kill off the Blue Dogs, and conservatives are gonna finally
get rid of RINOs."
- Democratic Base Sagging Liberal blogger Chris Bowers worries
about Democrats losing interest. "Democrats are not as enthusiastic and
well-organized as they were last year," he writes. "So, Democrats are
facing a twin problem of a national Republican gain
of 2-3%, combined with lower enthusiasm among their own base. While it
is not yet a recipe for Republicans to regain control of Congress, it
is certainly a recipe for Republicans to make real gains in the 2010
elections. As a party, Democrats should address these problems rather
than pretending they don't exist."
- A New GOP Brand Nate Silver says
Republicans have a branding problem and even suggests they change their
name to the Conservative Party. "The Democratic brand is marginal in
about half the
country, but the Republican brand is radioactive in about two-thirds of
it. The biggest story of the cycle is that a non-Republican
conservative, Doug Hoffman, might win. Counterfactual: if Hoffman had
in fact been the Republican nominee in NY-23 all along, would
he be in the same strong position that he finds himself in today?
Methinks not." He writes of the GOP adopting Conservative Party
candidate Doug Hoffman as their own, "while the upside is that
Republicans are re-branded
as conservatives, the risk is that conservatives are re-branded as
- GOP Wins Good for Obama? Peter Beinart flips the conventional wisdom,
arguing that Democrats losing some off-year battles is a good thing for
Obama. "Presidencies have an arc.
The key is to make sure that your trough comes early so that you’re
gaining strength as reelection rolls around." Beinart notes that both
Reagan and Clinton had rough midterm elections in their first terms but
went on to re-election, whereas George H.W. had a successful midterm.
"So let’s imagine that Democrats lose next week because the GOP’s
conservative base flocks to the polls while liberals stay home. For
Obama, that wouldn’t be so terrible. The more confident right-wing
Republicans become, the more likely they will nominate a Palin-like
zealot in 2012. And the more likely Obama will be able to use the GOP’s
zealotry to lure independent voters to his side, as Clinton did in
1996, when he made Newt Gingrich a central focus of his reelection bid."
- Absolutely Nothing The Atlantic's Joshua Green cautions
against over-analyzing. "Along with tarot cards and goat entrails, a
lot of people believe they
can divine hidden meaning from the results of off-year elections," he
writes. "The pointless thing about prognostications, even ones as vague
these, is that they can't factor in any of the changes that could occur
in the interim. And there are bound to be plenty of them: major
health-care reform seems likely; a weak economy and high unemployment
seem possible; and the introduction of a compelling Republican agenda
is at least feasible."
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