Politics – Why Neither Side Did Well In the 2009 Elections

Elections don’t tell us much about the future; anybody trying to handicap the 2010 elections based on two governor’s races and a Congressional seat vote is going to come up dry. Anything can happen in a year, and it’s more often close events than distant ones. Obama had a very well-run campaign, but John McCain made the mistake of saying “the fundamentals of our economy are strong” right when it was going to hell.

That said, the elections CAN tell us roughly what people are thinking right now, and right now? They’re pissed at everybody.

New Jersey frankly wasn’t a surprise. Corzine was deeply unpopular and his opponent smartly realized that this was a state race, not a national one. And as Jersey is deeply Democratic, I have a sneaking suspicion that Chris Christie is going to wind up making the GOP very, very unhappy in fairly short order, once they issue him marching orders and he decides he likes his job over political suicide. I spent twelve years in Vermont, and witnessed the transition from a Democratic governor (Howard Dean) to a Republican one, and Jim Douglas didn’t exact ring in major changes, either.

As for Virginia: no incumbent, conservative state. We call this a “chip shot.” Mark Warner was always an anomaly, and the win in Virginia is less than surprising.

Should the DNC be troubled? Well, yeah. Losing two governor’s races is never a good thing. So they should be worried. But, then, so should the GOP.

What Republicans aren’t talking about is the hilarious results of NY-23: namely, a Democrat beat the “Conservative Party” candidate GOP luminaries pressed hard for by a five-point margin, and they just lost a seat in the House. What was that about “momentum” again?

The winner, Bill Owens, is hardly a pot-smokin’ hippie: he is by all accounts quite conservative, and his district is fairly conservative as well. On the other hand, they voted overwhelmingly for Obama in the last election, which is why the GOP stumped so hard for the seat and poured a ton of money into Hoffman. After all, this was about conservative ideals in a conservative district with an outgoing Republican in the seat, easy freakin’ win. And the polls were going their way, as well. This way, they could say, “Look! The moderates are sick of Obama!”

Personally, the only thing that surprised me was the margin being so narrow: the “Conservative Party” candidate, Doug Hoffman, has all the charisma of a wad of gum on your shoe. I have no idea what the local issues are in NY-23, but then again, neither did Hoffman. He was a crappy candidate, and he got clocked.

In short, the GOP was just told, AGAIN, “We don’t want what you’re selling. Give us something else.”

In other words: the GOP’s voters aren’t happy with the GOP, yet Obama’s gains in conservative country are, unsurprisingly, not permanent. What does this mean for 2010?

I dunno. But that lost seat is going to make “retaking Congress” that much harder.

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