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 Again. The 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.