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-- Brad Delong

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

GOP victories send message to Democrats

That is the headline of this L A Times article,   which contains a brilliant quote from the always-on-top-of-things Michael Steele.

"It sends a clear signal that voters have had enough of the president's liberal agenda," Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele said after Robert F. McDonnell emerged as the winner in Virginia.

Let's examine these results and see if Steele has a point.  Republican Robert McDonnell crushed his Democratic opponent.  As the linked Times article indicates:

McDonnell's victory, in the president's backyard, seemed cut-and-dried for weeks, if not months. He was a stronger, more polished candidate than Deeds, with history on his side: Virginia voters have not elected a governor from the same party as the president in more than 30 years.

Not to mention that Deeds was a rural conservadem, week candidate, and poor campaigner.

And let's throw New Jersey into the mix.  Incumbent Democratic Governor and corruption magnet Jon Corzine, whose popularity has been sinking for quite some time, lost to Republican challenger Christopher Christie.    Again, from the Times:
More significant was the makeup of Tuesday's electorate in Virginia and New Jersey, states Obama carried a year ago. It was whiter than the electorate that turned out in 2008 to make Obama the first black president in the nation's history, and suggested the difficulty that Democrats could have attracting minority voters without the president atop the ticket.

This actually makes a lot of sense, since if only white people had been allowed to vote, John McCain would be president.  A closer look at the NJ result reveals that Corzine, for all his problems, didn't get swept away like R. Creigh Deeds did in VA.  Corzine's loss was by 48.7% to 44.6%.  Independent Christopher J. Daggett siphoned off 5.8% of the vote, a greater number than Christie's margin of victory.

So white people carried the day for McDonnell and Christie.

Meanwhile, in the upstate New York race that was garnering all the attention, and was taken to be the "microscopic referendum on the Obama-Biden spending agenda" before the votes were actually cast, Democrat Bill Owens defeated Independent cum de facto Republican Doug Hoffman in a close contest.

The thing that is lost in the mix is what happened in California.  In the 10th District, Obama's appontment of "former Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), who was brought into the Obama Administration to serve as the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security" opened her Congressional spot. In this race, Democrat John Garamendi defeated Republican David Harmer by a substantial 53% to 43%.  Tauscher is a business-friendly centrist, while Garamande is a real liberal, who supports a single-payer health care system and an exit strategy from Afghanistan.

So, If you're addicted to cherry juice, you can extract just about any message you like from all of this.  In my metaphore-mixing opinion, Steele manufactures Kool-Aide from cherry juice and shares it with his tea-bagging friends.

The real referndum will be in 2012.

Update:  While wing-nuts rip the Republic party in twain, they simultaneously claim victory - specifically in New York's 23 District.   Eric Ericson at Red State , in an article titled "In NY 23, Conservatives Win," opines:

Were we to combine Scozzafava and Hoffman’s votes, Hoffman would have won.

Sure.  Never mind that the 5.5% of the electorate who voted for Scozzafava could have voted for Hoffman, if that is what they wanted to do.  But these few people rejected the candidate that Beck, Palin, and the Club for Growth shoved down their throat.  If we combine Scozzafava and Owens votes, Hoffman loses by 55 to 45.

Indicative of absolutely nothing.

Update 2: Indicated in Highlighted text above.  H/T to BT.

Ed riffs on this subject in more detail.  BT adds some background.

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