The Lessons of NY23 (and NJ and VA)
I've been following these races for quite some time and was glued to the television and Internet as the results came in. A big message was sent to three different entities on election night, a message to:
1. The Republican party: voters made it clear that when they veer off platform, they'll get dumped. Newt Gingrich's attempted co-opting of the "big tent" is dishonest; it ignores that no party has a patent on limited government and it's a reason why, according to the latest Gallup poll, the majority of Americans identify themselves as conservatives. Not republican -conservative.
2. The Democrats, too, a startling revelation about the trouble President Obama has in getting people elected. What happened to his mojo? The President made many trips to both Virginia and New Jersey and despite slathering on the support, the Democrats lost – in Virginia by a landslide – 17 point gubernatorial spread (and all top three state elected offices went to the GOP). Their only big victory was Bill Owens, a moderate Democrat For all the talk some of the left espouses about the “fringe” right – it looks like moderation in the DNC was the ticket last night. And New Jersey? Blue NJ? My jaw hit the floor.
3. The grassroots. I often discuss all the ways one can get involved politically on a local level, precincts, et al. We can avoid the candidates we don't like by filtering them out at the local level, nipping their ascension to power in the proverbial bud by assuring they don’t get nominated in the first place – and we can’t do that until we infiltrate the party, beginning at the most basic levels. It takes about as much time a year, if not less, than standing on a street corner with a placard.
2010 will be interesting. This doesn't bode well for the blue dog democrats who are feeling very uneasy about passing a health care bill that the majority of the country opposes. They're especially nervous after seeing how ineffective the Obama factor was to Democrats in Virginia and New Jersey. In all races, independents tired of government expansion voted for another change. In Virginia, the disparity was 58 - 33% in favor of Chris Christie - startling numbers, considering that it was the creme de la creme of swing states last year.
Now, depending on health care, that split may grow even wider.
A round up from the web:
The thing the Republican party needs to remember here, and especially in the NY-23 race, is that they can claim no credit for these victories. In fact, in the NY-23 race, Doug Hoffman will have won in spite of the GOP. It should be sending a pretty clear message to the Republicans like Meghan McCain who like to say that Americans want a “moderate”, Democrat-lite version of the GOP. Democrats haven’t won in NY-23 in over 110 years, and yet here they are, contenders to take the seat because the GOP decided to go for a Republican that would surely get the Meghan McCain stamp of approval. What does that tell you? Abandoning conservative principles to get liberals in the media to like you does not win you voters, and it’s a testament to Doug Hoffman, not the GOP, that he could walk away tonight victorious.
The White House spends its time attacking radio-talk-show hosts and Fox News. Jon Corzine went after his opponent’s weight. Creigh Deeds obsessed over a 20-year-old college paper. There is, in all these gambits, a fundamental contempt for voters and a smallness by those attempting to distract and befuddle their fellow citizens.
Are the voters to believe that Fox is the problem and not the president’s own policies? Should New Jersey voters think that Chris Christie’s girth is more important than the gluttony of spending in Trenton? And, really, did Virginia voters think school papers should dictate their votes? Democrats seemed to think so. The voters had other ideas.
Obama should also take note because a dual-state takeover by Republicans in both NJ and VA has happened before in an off-year election. Andrew Malcolm at the LA Times reminds us:
Interesting historical anecdote that sounds strangely familiar for some reason: The last time voters in both those states did this same dual political overthrow simultaneously was 1993 after the first 10 months of a new Democratic president named Bill Clinton, who was pushing a massive healthcare reform plan.
Anyone remember what the outcome of that off-year harbinger was? The Republican revolution of the 1994 midterm elections, when the GOP seized both houses of Congress.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has her game face on.
But, um, she looks and sounds ridiculous. For that matter, so does White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod and all the other pols who maintain that they are actually "pleased with the election results" yesterday. Quietly, though, Pelosi, Reid and tons of other liberals are very very worried about the movement of Independents and Democrats who are now voting for the GOP.
It was about wrenching the reigns away from the GOP, a party that the tea party movement pulled out of the muck post-2008 elections, a party that literally turned about-face to walk right back into the crap pile. People were active locally in NY23 – they were sidestepped by the NRCC who, in a backroom meeting with a handful of folks, chose a ridiculous liberal as their nominee. There was NO primary. The RNC spent $1 million dollars campaigning against conservatism in New York’s 23rd. They spent that money on an ACORN candidate that forced them to turn and grab their ankles when she endorsed Democrat Bill Owens. Beltway Republicans like Newt Gingrich praised Scozzafava as being the new face of the party … which says a lot when that face does robocalls for a high-taxes, big labor Democrat.