Elections in Virginia, New York and New Jersey show shift in political landscape

November 3, 2009

First, a few obsevations:

1. Democrats are getting hammered in swing state Virginia. It’s not just Bob McDonnell, down ticket, too.

2. Independents (very deficit-phobic) look like they are flocking to VA GOP.

3. Economy isnt that bad in VA, just 6.7 percent unemployment. So more than just anxiety about job loss.

4. Blue Dogs will look at VA and fear for their seats, especially if McCain in ’08 or Bush in ’04 won their districts.

5. #4 is is bad news for Obama agenda. Already it looks like healthcare will slip into 2010.

6. Spending, spending, spending is freaking Americans out. “Trilion” has a powerful, visceral impact.

7. All the candidates in NY, NJ and VA ran as low-tax, control spending types. But McDonnell in VA was able to successfully paint Dem Creigh Deeds as a taxer and spender.

8. NY a sign that me-too, moderate Republicanism is a non-stater in party. Hofffman will encourage more primary challengers and boost folks like Rubio in FL and DeVore in CA.

9.  Will Blue Dogs revolting and GOP emboldened, Obama agenda as currently constituted is in bad shape.

10. Blaming Bush for economy is done as a political weapon. New polls show 49% blame Bush, 45% blame Obama. Give that number another year of high unemployment. This was Jon Corzine’s strategy vs. Chris Christie. Good thing for Corzine that he had Dem machine in his corner, plus outspent Christie by 3-to-1.

Bottom Line: While there were local factors as play, this election day is looking like a rejection of  big-spending Washington that seems to be doing little to fix the economy. And certainly using the weak economy as crisis to be exploited is at an end. Sorry, Rahm Emanuel. Just another data point, of course. But a significant one.


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Where’s this liberal media I keep hearing about? All I see are lot of hate-mongers, arm-chair quarterbacks, racists, and whiners. Whaaa. The good news is that where your head is, you won’t need sunglasses, or a proctologist.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Witty observations by liberals like Mike is why the progressive agenda is running out of steam. At some point you’ve got to stop smearing and start governing. Dems continue to smear and are doing a terrible job of governing. Americans are rejecting them.

Good article, Mr. Pethokoukis

Posted by foutsc | Report as abusive

I’ve seen many posts today from Liberals who are blaming the VA defeat on the fact that Deeds ran a campaign to the Right of Obama. Their enraged suggestion? That ALL Dems runs further to the Left in 2010. I absolutely love it!!!! Obama/Pelosi’s insane borrowing/spending has their approval ratings plummeting, independents are shifting back to the Right in droves, and a consensus is forming that Obama/Pelosi are ideological nitwits on fiscal policy. And the Left recommmends they double down and mover even further to the Left. Unbelievable!

Posted by JohnR | Report as abusive

It’s not smart to read too much into last nights results. Sure, the Obama voters stayed home but they will be back in 2010 when the congress is up. Voters will still be mad but in most districts they will decide to keep their gut/gal. Reps will pick up some seats, maybe as many as 30, but this election, like 2008, is not transformational.

Posted by Joan Clendenin | Report as abusive

The Dems are attempting to downplay the effects of yesterday’s election results, and I seriously doubt if the heavy hitters on the left will bother to make any changes in course. The “blue dogs” probably will though (at least the inteligent ones).

As evidenced by yesterday’s smackdown, the President’s coattails fail to extend beyond the boundaries of DC. If the blue dogs make the unwise decision to follow Obama and Pelosi further down the road towards socialism, they’ll be on their own come next November.

Posted by Rick Rouse | Report as abusive

I think your points 4,5, and 6 are spot on. But I would hesitate to read too much into these results. Agree that that the results are good news for conservativeas and bad news for Obama. But we’re talking about a handful of elections a full year before the 2010 midterms. Lots of stuff can happen in that year. Those midterms will be the true referendum on Obama, and yesterday was just one step towards a future that has yet to unfold.

Posted by Bill, Fairfax, VA | Report as abusive

The use of the word “racist” in the previous comment is amazing. Or not. Perhaps the poster could elaborate on what part of the above column is racist? Or what part of one’s concern over trillions of dollars of national debt makes them racist? May I suggest that the sooner you get over this ridiculous reflex, the sooner you may come to a more rational awareness of opposing points of view. Not only is this absurd charge being increasingly ignored, but it is also obscuring your view of a freight train of opinion headed down the tracks and directly towards you…

The rest of your post was really great, though.

Posted by dj | Report as abusive

if the results had been the opposite, I have absolutely no doubt that Democrats would be saying it vindicated Obama, and Republicans would be playing the “local factors” card.

Posted by drewbie | Report as abusive

You make some interesting points, but it seems like we hear the same lines after each election. like the above commenter, whatever the results it seems like the conservative and liberal media just trade scripts. this blog from georgetown does a good job of explaining why this election may not really say that much about the results of 2010. http://gnovisjournal.org/blog/crunching- numbers-media-polling-spin-zone-meets-el ection-2009

Posted by trish | Report as abusive