Two Out of Three

Happy Elephant

The Republicans won two of the three big races last night, taking the state houses in Virginia and New Jersey while losing the special Congressional election in New York 23.  What does this mean, other than that the Republicans had a good night last night?

1.    The Demise of the Republican Party was greatly exaggerated.  Whenever a party takes a shellacking in an election, as the Republicans did in 2006 and 2008, common wisdom begins to hold that the party is in deep trouble and may not be long for this world.  Rubbish.  Since the time of the Federalists and the Jeffersonian Republicans, this country has almost always had a two party system.  The Democrats and the Republicans have fought each other for over a century and a half, and the one thing that can be safely said about this unending political struggle is that there are no final victories.  The Republicans are starting a come back, a familiar theme in American political history, and not very surprising.

2.     Virginia is Red AgainThe Democrats had been turning Virginia purple for the last few election cycles, controlling the governorship, both US Senators being Democrat and placing Virginia in the column for Obama last year.  Now Bob McDonnell has reversed that process, winning by almost twenty points, with the Republicans running for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General winning by similar margins.  It has been twelve years since a Republican last won the governorship of Virginia and McDonnell has done so in a spectacular manner in one of the best campaigns for governor I have ever witnessed.  He is now a major figure in the Republican party, and his success should send a shiver down the spine of every Blue Dog from a Red or Purple state.

3.    New Jersey Shocker.  There are few states more blue than New Jersey.  The fact that it elected a Republican as governor is absolutely stunning.  Jon Corzine the incumbent governor was highly unpopular in the state, but with the $30,000,000 of his  personal wealth Corzine dropped on his campaign, outspending Christie three to one, unstinting support from the White House, the Obama administration basically ran Corzine’s campaign for the last month, and Independent Chris Daggett draining off anti-Corzine votes, it was a tremendous achievement for Christie to prevail with almost 50% of the vote in a three man race.

4.  New York 23.  The defeat of Doug Hoffman  Conservative Party candidate is important mostly for internal Republican politics.  The attempt to foist a liberal Democrat in Republican clothes upon unwilling Republican voters, led to a successful grassroots revolt, aided by such Republican luminaries as Sarah Palin.  The endorsement by Scozzafava of the Democrat in the race after she dropped out, merely underlined the extremely bad judgment shown by both the Republican county chairmen who chose Scozzafava, and the Republican National Campaign Committee that threw almost a million dollars away in supporting her.  The conservatives come out of this fight greatly strengthened in the Republican party and the RINOS are in retreat.  Hoffman came close enough with 45% of the vote that I think his chances are excellent to take the seat in 2010 after winning the Republican primary in the Spring, and needless to say Dede Scozzafava will be a prime Republican target if she decides to run for re-election in the state legislature as either a Republican or a Democrat.

5.  Bad night for Obama.  The Obama administration will play up the victory in New York 23, but it is a small consolation prize for the loss of two governors.  This sends a message to all the Democrats in Congress that they can expect a very rough election year in 2010, and will make it increasingly difficult for the Democrats to muster the votes to pass Obama’s agenda, including ObamaCare and Cap and Trade.

6.    Good night for Republicans.  The victories in Virginia and New Jersey will do wonders for the campaign fundraising of the Republicans.  Republicans across the country will be learning valuable lessons from the McDonnell and Christie campaigns.  Candidate recruitment, already strong for Republicans next year, will be enhanced.  Other than New York 23, the Republicans couldn’t have asked for a much better election night.

Update:  Good analysis here by Ed Morrissey of Hot Air regarding the election results.  His bottom line is that the Obama mystique is gone.

38 Responses to Two Out of Three

  • “There are few states more blue than New Jersey.”

    And may I add, few states (other than, ahem, our own) with a less savory political reputation. Reformist Republicans have taken back the governor’s chair in Louisiana and New Jersey; will the Land of Lincoln be next?

  • Elaine in the year 2010 I even hold out hope for our poor sad Land of Lincoln!

  • And don’t forget that gay marriage went down to defeat that ultra conservative bastion known as Maine.

    All in all, a good night.

  • I don’t know why we should be excited about Christie winning in New Jersey. Any politician who claims to be “personally opposed” to abortion, but unwilling to “force that down people’s throats” (paging Pontius Pilate!) is unworthy of my support.

  • Here is a good overview of Christie on abortion:

    http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctpolitics/2009/11/republican_chri.html

    He could be much better, but Corzine was a total pro-abort, and I rejoice in his defeat.

    http://www.ontheissues.org/Social/Jon_Corzine_Abortion.htm

  • Apparently Scozzafava’s endorsement was the key factor in the victory of Owens.

    http://www.tcotreport.com/election2009.html

  • I don’t think Hoffman was a great candidate. From what I’ve read, he didn’t have a very good command of the issues – it was just conservative bread and butter. McDonnell is a good contrast. He focused on issues and policies; he didn’t just talk about taxes and social conservatism. I think Deeds could have won, but he (for reasons totally unclear to me) has run as a left-wing culture warrior from day 1. It’s the exact opposite of Mark Warner’s approach. McDonnell really stole a page from Warner – sound like a moderate technocrat without abandoning your core values. For Warner, the chief of those was fiscal moderation; For McDonnell, they seem to be social conservatism and higher growth through low taxes and low regulation. The recurrent theme on the Republican victory this morning on NPR was low voter turnout – Deeds was too Southern to appeal in NoVA. That seems like a liberal fantasy though – he did well in NoVA against two quasi-locals in the primary.

  • Wow, so he refuses to take on abortion–except through nominal measures–and he’s pro-gay civil union. This is not a victory.

  • New Jersey Right to Life thinks it is a victory.

    http://www.lifenews.com/state4512.html

  • “It has been twelve years since a Republican last won the governorship of Virginia and McDonnell has done so in a spectacular manner in one of the best campaigns for governor I have ever witnessed.”

    Did he have any opposition in the GOP primary?

  • “Did he have any opposition in the GOP primary?”

    I don’t think the Virginia GOP has had a competitive gubernatorial primary since George Allen ran for Governor in 1993. The trend lately is that the sitting Attorney General gets the nod with very little competition whatsoever.

  • Elaine,
    No. Bolling (Lt. Gov) wanted to run for governor, but he and McDonnell made a deal last year that if Kaine joined the Obama admin (thus making Bolling governor), McDonnell wouldn’t challenge Bolling, and that if Kaine stayed, McDonnell would run this year and Bolling wouldn’t challenge him.

  • Did he have any opposition in the GOP primary?

    Nothing significant that I can recall.

    Deeds ran one of the worst campaigns that I can ever remember. He did nothing except focus on McDonnell’s Master’s Thesis. It was just pathetic. Conversely, McDonnell ran a masterful campaign. Focus was on the issues, lots of good personal family-focused ads, not a lot of negative stuff. As other said last night, it was a model of how all campaign should be run.

  • The Republican sweep runs deeper. In Boston, Mayor Menino passes his first real challenge. In NYC, Bloomberg wins as expected but in a shocker, Republicans upset 2 city council elections.

  • On NY 23: I suspect that the very public support that Hoffman received from the national right, combined with Scozzafava’s endorsement of the Dem, probably hurt him by making it easier for his Dem opponent to secure the moderates who likely perceived the choice (not necessarily correctly) as between a solid conservative candidate versus a moderate liberal.

  • The Demise of the Republican Party was greatly exaggerated.

    I still think the party, unless it changes, is on a slow decline. It’s demographically inevitable. But no one election will give us a clear indication of that. Short-term speculation with a broad brush, whether it’s the demise of the Republican Party or the coming Republican Revolution, is useless.

  • Don,

    I agree with Reinstatedradical. While it may be true that we have always had a two party system, we have not always had the same two parties. National parties have gone extinct before, though I admit, it has been a long time since that happened. We are, however, in extraordinary times.

    The real danger to the GOP comes from the rapidly growing Hispanic population in the Southwest. Yesterdays elections can’t tell us much about that. Demographic shift is like a terminal illness unless the party can successfully appeal to the growing demographics.

    The math is simple; if Texas goes blue, the GOP is dead. Arizona may follow to add insult to injury.

  • Donald,

    Of course Right to Life calls it a victory. The GOP panders to Right to Life and gives them credibility. In turn, Right to Life provides endorsements that bring the candidates dollars and votes. And the dance continues while babies are slaughtered by the thousands.

    Let’s keep in mind that National Right to Life and most of its state and local affiliates have done little to promote a culture of life. They go neutral on contraception. They accept exceptions. Hell, sometimes they push for exceptions. And they tend to oppose personhood.

    I’ll repeat it: Any candidate unwilling to take a stand against the slaughter of innocents, is unworthy of my vote-no matter how personally opposed he may be. I suspect you’d agree with me if my comments were about any candidate with a (D) next to his name.

    I want to vote for a guy who values the babies more than he values elected office.

    Steve

  • I agree that this election might signal a backlash against the leftward ambitions of Obama; I’m less convinced that it’s a reinvigoration of the GOP.

    The GOP is in trouble because no one agrees precisely on what conservatism is. For some, it’s being a foreign policy hawk. For others, it’s fiscal conservatism and small government. And then there’s those wingnut social conservatives. The typical Republican voter is on a sliding scale somewhere on all three of those. I don’t see how this uneasy coalition survives when there is increasing faction and animosity within the ranks. The demographic shifts that Joe mentioned will be a bellwether. My own experience growing up with second and third generation Latino families in California suggests that their social conservatism is vastly overstated.

    Tough times ahead for social conservatives?

  • Yeah, now National Right to Life is bad too, yawn. When it comes to politics there will always be two kinds of people: those who relish in their purity as they stay on the sidelines and have no significant impact and those who engage the world and accept compromise in order to achieve improvement. Some folks will always let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

  • Virginia is back. I was getting sick of the purple hue. We have two prominent, authentic, conservative Catholics in our new governor and attorney general. Ken looks good for a future gov and Bob may just be our next Catholic President and in many ways the first for this country.

    This victory is huge becuase it tells Republicans that if they want to win they need the south and obviously the south is looking for truly conservative, Christian leadership. Stop running fakes. Run authentically and copy McDonnell and Cuccinelli.

    If a southern state with a large, highly populace and affluent enemy-occupied zone (No Va)can go to true conservative and orthodox Catholic Republicans the rest of the south can be a sweep. Demoncrats are on their heels and they know their time is short. We can expect more desperate attempts to force illicit and immoral legisaltion until they are swept away next year.

  • Mike Petrik,

    There is nothing “good” about tolerating child murder. If these were four-year-olds we were talking about, it wouldn’t even be a question.

    What improvement have we gotten from the GOP and Right to Life strategy? A ban on PBA–one method of abortion. Whoopty do.

    Jesus didn’t accept compromise. Neither will I.

  • The lesson from NY23 is that Republican candidates should be conservative but not too conservative. The moderates voted Democrat. Maybe a more charismatic conservative could’ve won. Hoffman was just creepy. There’s another lesson: Don’t put people on the ticket who you’d be wary of on the line at the post office.

  • Where would that leave Barney Frank?

  • Actually, if it wasn’t for the six percent or so that voted for Scozzafava Hoffman probably would have won. I assume that most of these votes were from early voting and/or from people who didn’t know she had dropped out of the race. The lesson of NY-23, in my opinion, is that next time the Republican Party shouldn’t field such an awful candidate.

  • Hoffman was just creepy. There’s another lesson: Don’t put people on the ticket who you’d be wary of on the line at the post office.

    He has been gainfully employed and made a good living for more than thirty years, is married with three children, and has been the author of no scandals of which anyone is aware (though Joe Hargrave might offer that his antique car collection is ‘insolent’). Did it ever occur to you that he might be quite normal and you might be Hermann Munster?

  • Steve,
    Working to eliminate abortion is not tolerating abortion, even if such work means you favor the candidate who would grant exceptions over the candidate who supports abortion on demand. And as far as the GOP accomplishments re abortion are concerned, there are actually quite a few and have been listed on this blog more than once. You might want to research first and post second.

  • The lesson of NY-23, in my opinion, is that next time the Republican Party shouldn’t field such an awful candidate.

    From the perspective of the people who ran her, she was likely a known quantity who would answer their phone calls and carry water for them, so a good candidate. The trouble is, the actual business of state government gets very little coverage (bar conflict and scandal) and state legislative contests are quite uncompetitive. When you’re in, you’re in. Getting elected in the first place can turn on random factors and trivia. She was at one time Mayor of Gouverneur, N.Y., but the disputes of small town politics are often on spectra different from those of national party politics (and some of the disputes can turn on purely personal factors). When someone disseminated a precis of what she actually stood for on controversial issues, she wilted in the sun. That was not supposed to happen (and seldom does in these parts). Them’s that ran her are likely peeved that this stuff they do not care much about got in the way of their deal-making, and that’s it.

  • Mike Petrik,

    Exceptions are the problem. Any time we admit that there are cases in which it’s ok to kill an innocent person, we lose all moral high ground in repudiating any abortion.

    The Bush reign (I’m embarrassed to admit I campaigned and voted for him) had wide majorities in both houses of Congress. I’ll give him credit for Alito and Roberts and also for the Mexico City Policy. But the party caved on Appellate judges. The PBA vote was a red herring because it did pretty much nothing but ban one type of procedure. And the so-called pro-life president became the first to federally fund experimentation on destroyed embryos (with NRLC providing cover).

    The Church is with me on these issues, though they may be politically inconvenient for you and other Republicans.

    Pro-lifers are the largest GOP voting bloc. If abortion were eliminated, some of those voters would stay with the Republicans and some would vote Democrat. In order to keep their largest bloc, two things need to happen:

    1. Republicans must make it appear as though they are doing everything they can to end abortion.
    2. Abortion never goes away.

    You mention that working to end abortion is not the same as condoning abortion. I was specifically referring to Christie who said he won’t shove his beliefs on abortion down anyone’s throat. Please explain to me how this is any different from John Kerry’s “I’m personally opposed, but…” statement.

    Finally, your smack talk is uncharitable. Your remark that people like me are on the sidelines is silly. I may not be particularly active politically, but even in the last year, the Lord has used me as an unworthy instrument to save more lives than any legislator this side of Henry Hyde. That is not me boasting. I am fully aware that the Lord’s use of me in street-level activism is for His glory alone. It’s as if He’s exhibiting His greatness by saying, “My grace is so powerful that this project can succeed even with Steve running it.”

  • Herman Munster was gainfully employed, married with a son and even took in his niece.

    Like it or not, political candidates who look like Trekies we threw into trash bins in high school start the game with a strike against them.

  • Steve, the reality is this: A majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal, although they are in favor of some restrictions. And many people who say they are prolife nonetheless do not rate ending the practice as a high priority issue and have no problems voting for a pro-abort candidate (and that number includes many Catholics).

    Given those numbers and that reality, even if, say, Bush had been able to end all abortion in the US with a penstroke (something he could not do), this poisonous issue would not go away. All a blanket ban (again, not possible) would do is inflame the other side. Politics is the art of the possible. Abortion will not end in this country until hearts are changed. Until then, we have to push for small victories. Go ahead and scoff and say the GOP hasn’t done enough – what they have done is called “Scalia” “Roberts” “Aliota” and “Roberts.” That isn’t nothing.

    In NJ, the left kept bringing up Christie’s prolife views. The left wanted to use it as a wedge issue against Christie and if Christie had taken the bait, we’d be talking about completely pro-abort two-term governor Corzine right now. Christie focused on the economy instead. That isn’t selling out; that’s recognizing what issue will get you elected and hammering it.

    Obama’s healthcare plan took a serious and perhaps a fatal hit last night. Since I don’t believe for a minute that the Dems intend to leave abortion funding out of the bill, I consider last night’s elections to be a move in the right direction. Much better than if Christie had denounced abortion on every Jersey street corner and gone down in flames.

  • Steve,
    1. You were the one who first launched “uncharitable” spitballs at the National Right to Life. Really, get over yourself.
    2. Of course exceptions are a problem, but Catholic teaching makes it clear that supporting a candidate who supports exceptions in order to defeat a candidate who supports abortion on demand is morally acceptable. Moreover, such support does not mean that one supports the exceptions. That is logic 101. Finally, your suggestion that the Church teaches otherwise is mistaken.
    I agree that Christie’s statement is objectionable. But it does not follow that support for Christie is objectionable.

  • Ok, I see that McDonnell had no serious primary opposition. That left him with plenty of resources and time to run a great campaign. Was the same true of Christie in NJ?

    The reason I ask is that in Illinois there are already at least half a dozen GOP candidates for governor filed to run in the primary (in February), with no clear front runner. Conventional wisdom holds that this will lead to a bitter and self-destructive primary battle that will yield a weak candidate who won’t be able to withstand the Democratic juggernaut.

    Then again, the Dems have problems of their own with at least 3 or 4 candidates lined up to oppose incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn, whose popularity has dropped like a rock in recent months.

    I suppose in the end the outcome will depend upon whether the fiscal crap hits the fan (in the form of a tax hike, state government shutdown or both) before the election and who gets blamed if it does.

  • I have just read that Cardinal ["Dick"] Cushing [the Kennedy cardinal] told Massachusetts representatives considering an abortion bill that they should not impose their personal beliefs on the public. “If your constituents are for abortion, you must vote your constituents’ wishes”.

    With cardinals like these who needs atheists?

  • I’m pretty sure that Cushing’s scandalous statement related to contraception, not abortion.

  • Cardinal Cushing died in 1970. That was before Roe, but by that time several states had adopted “model” abortion laws decriminalizing the procedure and allowing abortion for “health” reasons. So while it COULD have been an abortion bill that the Cardinal was referring to, more likely, it was a measure to lift restrictions on the sale or distribution of contraceptives — many states had such laws well into the 1960s.

  • “Two out of Three……….ain’t bad.”

    Song by Meatloaf.

    More good rock from the 70′s eh, Don ;-)

  • My reaction to Meatloaf Don was to always wish I could throw a rock at him!

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