Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Thursday, November 5, 2009


Gail Collins:

There seems to be a semiconsensus across the land that the myriad decisions voters made around the country this week all added up to a terrible blow to the White House. If that’s the way we’re going to go, I don’t think it’s fair to dump all the blame on gubernatorial contests in New Jersey and Virginia.

Although there is no way to deny that New Jersey and Virginia were terrible, horrible, disastrous, cataclysmic blows to Obama’s prestige. No wonder the White House said he was not watching the results come in. How could the man have gotten any sleep after he realized that his lukewarm support of an inept candidate whose most notable claim to fame was experience in hog castration was not enough to ensure a Democratic victory in Virginia?
New Jersey was even worse. The defeat of Gov. Jon Corzine made it clear that the young and minority voters who turned out for Obama will not necessarily show up at the polls in order to re-elect an uncharismatic former Wall Street big shot who failed to deliver on his most important campaign promises while serving as the public face of a state party that specializes in getting indicted.  [...]

We have a dramatic saga story line brewing here, and I do not want to mess it up by pointing out that Obama’s party won the only two elections that actually had anything to do with the president’s agenda. Those were the special Congressional races in California and upstate New York. But obviously they reflect only a very narrow voter sentiment, since one involved a district that was safe for the Democrats and the other a district that had not been represented by the party since 1872.

Winning two more seats in the House, where votes are counted for actual legislation, is quite heartening.

And here's another analysis on Tuesday's results:

First of all, the Democratic candidate in New Jersey, Jon Corzine, was an unbelievably unpopular incumbent who ran a tragically poor campaign. Corzine's unpopularity vastly predates Obama's impact on the electorate, and was the entire reason he lost. As for Virginia, well, that state has been a tough get for any Democrat for a couple of generations now; Obama's success there in the 2008 presidential election was the exception and not the rule for Democrats historically, and speaking of history, the party that wins the White House has gone on to lose the Virginia governor's office one year later every time since the Carter administration, so we're not into any kind of mold-breaking situation there.

Second of all, these were two statewide elections where Obama was not on the ballot, and there is no national significance whatsoever behind two states out of fifty voting for Republicans. Furthermore, Democrats cleaned up in local elections all across the country, especially in mayoral races, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of breathless reporting on this facet of yesterday's vote coming from the news folks. The umpire made the call, and that's how it goes. Or something.

Speaking of the national picture for the GOP, it is difficult to make a cogent argument that two statewide gubernatorial wins are enough to alter the country's opinion of the party, especially since the country's opinion of Republicans remains monumentally bleak. Just two weeks ago, a Washington Post/ABC News poll reported:

Less than one in five voters (19 percent) expressed confidence in Republicans' ability to make the right decisions for America's future while a whopping 79 percent lacked that confidence.

Among independent voters, who went heavily for Obama in 2008 and congressional Democrats in 2006, the numbers for Republicans on the confidence questions were even more worse. Just 17 percent of independents expressed confidence in Republicans' ability to make the right decision while 83 percent said they did not have that confidence.

On the generic ballot question, 51 percent of the sample said they would cast a vote for a Democratic candidate in their congressional district next fall while just 39 percent said they would opt for a GOP candidate.

And, perhaps most troubling for GOP hopes is the fact that just 20 percent of the Post sample identified themselves as Republicans, the lowest that number has been in Post polling since 1983. (No, that is not a typo.)

Finally, the idea that yesterday's elections bode well for the Republican Party might make for good television, but that doesn't make it right. The race in New York's 23rd District has far more national import than the other two, and the writing on the wall doesn't make for good reading for the GOP going forward. The election went sideways several weeks ago when moderate Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava came under fire from the high priests of the far right because they deemed her not conservative enough. Ersatz luminaries like Limbaugh, Beck and Palin jumped on board the third-party candidacy of Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, and the resulting bedlam eventually drove Scozzafava out of the race. Scozzafava stepped aside after endorsing the Democratic candidate, Bill Owens, who went on to win Tuesday's election by a margin of 49-45.

This was a nifty win for the Democrats, because the seat was formerly held by Republican John McHugh, who vacated the seat after he was tapped by President Obama to serve as secretary of the Army. Beyond the pick-up, however, is the fact that the whole national Republican infrastructure has been shaken up thanks to this race. The hard-right GOP base revved itself up and successfully tore down an electable moderate member of their own party. If they get it into their heads to do this in other races come 2010, we could very easily watch the GOP eat itself next year, as its ground troops attack and soften up fellow Republicans, making them ripe pickings for Democratic opponents. The Democrats have been expecting to lose seats in 2010, something that nearly always happens during the first midterms of a new presidency, but open warfare within the GOP could very much mitigate the damage.

Speaking of the NY-23 race, memo to news reporters: the Democrat won. It isn't a "sweep" when the other team wins a game. The news people should ask the sports reporters for a refresher course on athletic terminology. It's probably a good idea to have your facts straight before your broadcasters open their mouths or your printing press puts ink to paper.



Helen of Troy New York said...

Wait! The conservatives believe that losing a Cong. district that was Republican for over 100 years is good news?

And how about that Palin "star power" in helping conservative radical get elected?

Limbaugh, Beck, and Palin are well on their way to destroying what's left of the Republican Party with their NO MODERATES ALLOWED! edicts.

How's that working for you now, Sarah?

Shaw Kenawe said...


As usual, The Gasbag blamed someone else for the historic defeat of the Republican candidate in New York's #23.

What a cowardly little weasel.

He and Palin and Beck meddled in an area they knew nothing about, then after all their nincompoop efforts failed, Limbaugh blames someone else for the Republican defeat.

Another classless "blame the other guy" gambit by the bloviator:

"LIMBAUGH: Here is — these are my thoughts on New York-23. … We cannot forget how this whole thing happened in the first place. There was not a primary. The right message here would indict the way party bosses, Republican Party bosses and these big thinkers like Newt screwed the whole thing up from the get go."

Yeah. Right, Rush. Black is white; up is down; war is peace.

Keep up the excellent work.

Ruth said...

Shhhhh. Let the heads of the right wing party keep on mixing it up. No hints and we can just let them do all the work of proving that it takes nuts to be wingnuts.

TAO said...

We have now turned off year elections and special local elections to fill vacanies into national news...

People actually stayed up late into the night, like some do during presidential elections, because they so needed to know the outcome...

It is obvious that for some in this country their lives need something more filling to occupy their time...

These four or five races (only two if a conservative) amount to absolutely nothing at the end of the day and by the end of the week it all will be forgotten...

But Rush and Glen have shows to do....

Pamela D. Hart said...

Both sides would like to slant this optimistically for their own political gain. However, trying to predict the actions of others can be questionable at best. I think going right to the source is the best course of action…

Frank Luntz did one of his Focus Groups in VA. Those people, some of which voted for Obama, said they voted Republican but it had nothing to do with Obama and everything to do with JOBS in VA.

dmarks said...

Hotny said:

"And how about that Palin "star power" in helping conservative radical get elected?"

Well, she lent none of her "star power" to that. There were no radicals up for election.

Pamela said: "nothing to do with Obama and everything to do with JOBS in VA."

Obama has put jobs way down the line on his priority list.

StephanieAnn said...

I think people are reading too much into this. Frankly, not nearly as many people voted because it was a mid-year election, so it can't very well display the majority in these states.

I Read This... said...

The transcript from Rush Limbaugh's show yesterday was entitled, "Conservatism Didn't Lose in NY-23." Michelle Malkin summed up the prevailing view on the right,

Hoffman may have lost narrowly, but NY-23 is a much broader victory for conservatives who believe the Republican Party should stand for core limited government principles ... Moreover, NY-23 is a victory for conservatives who refuse to be marginalized in the public square by either the unhinged left or the establishment right.

There's only one slight problem with this attitude. It's a denial of reality. Back in the real world the GOP lost a formerly safe Republican seat, and another Democrat went to the House, adding to the already large Democratic majority. But conservatives sent the national party a message. Wow, what an accomplishment.

Here's something the conservative base simply refuses to understand. They are not the Republican party, and they don't get to decide who is and is not a Republican. We have a two party system with a pair of broad-based political parties. Each party contains a spectrum of views, and that includes the GOP. Trying to exclude moderates and even liberals from the party shrinks it and makes it less effective, not more. There is no addition through subtraction, as others have pointed out. By supporting third-party candidates and attempting to expel anyone they see as a RINO, the base is weakening the GOP and assisting Democrats.

A Guy named Dave said...

Let's see. How's Rush doing with his influence on the GOP and American politics?

Everything he's championed has been a failure. Everything.

Even his bid to be a part owner of the NFL.

When will the conservatives wake up and see the reality.

Rush Limbaugh is a loud mouthed failure.

He makes a lot of money at being a failure.