2009 Elections

Call me an apologist for the Democrats, but I know why Creigh Deeds lost in Virginia.  He lost because Virginia voters are historically strange.  Eight to 12 years of one party and they switch.  When Charles Robb was elected Governor he was the first Democrat in 12 years.  He was followed by two more Dems.  Then there were 8 Republican years followed by 8 Democratic ones.  See the pattern here.  I think the swing has become shorter because people’s attention span has become shorter.  I’ve said for years that Virginia needs to change this crazy one term and you’re out rule for governors.  I think Tim Kaine could have been re-elected. 

I’ll leave the analysis of Jon Corzine’s loss to others, but I think it had something to do with raising taxes and the unemployment rate in New Jersey.  The subway news-sheet I read on my way to work yesterday advised that if you were looking for a job, don’t think about moving to New Jersey.

Most disappointing is the rejection of gay marriage by the Maine voters.  As I have said about California’s Prop 8, I think it is wrong to let people vote on other people’s civil rights.  This also shows why we need national protections beginning with an ending “don’t ask” for the military and the Defense of Marriage Act.  Of course, this will probably make the Obama administration even more cautious.

But,

Democrats won a special election in New York State’s northernmost Congressional district Tuesday, a setback for national conservatives who heavily promoted a third candidate in what became an intense debate over the direction of the Republican Party.

This is the district which clearly showed Republican party differences.

The district has been a Republican stronghold for generations, and the party has represented parts of it since the 19th century.

The battle became one of the most closely followed races in the nation, drawing in some of the biggest forces in politics in both parties. Republicans who viewed the race as a test of the party’s most deeply held conservative principles — including Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska; Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, a presidential hopeful; and grass-roots groups that have forcefully opposed Democratic economic and health care policies — rallied behind Mr. Hoffman.

Democrats threw muscle behind the race as well, eager to avoid a potentially embarrassing defeat as President Obama’s approval ratings have softened and efforts to portray them as the party of big government and deficit spending appear to be sticking. A win in the Republican-leaning 23rd Congressional District would provide Democrats with a welcome boost, while a loss would reinforce the notion that the party is struggling.

The seat became vacant after President Obama appointed its long-serving Republican congressman, John M. McHugh, as secretary of the Army.

But as you will recall

Leading conservative voices — including The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page and The Weekly Standard and the talk show personalities Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck — took on the Republican nominee, Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, who supports gay rights and abortion rights and had embraced some Democratic economic policies like the federal stimulus package. They labeled her as too liberal.

The attacks on Ms. Scozzafava eventually took their toll, and she stunned her party over the weekend first by withdrawing from the race and then by urging her supporters to vote for Mr. Owens, a 60-year-old lawyer from Plattsburgh.

So despite the gloomy election news elsewhere, we can watch the Republicans fight some more.  I have a feeling they will try to run against more moderate Republicans.  Maybe some of them should try to save themselves by supporting health care reform.  And if, as some have speculated, the Democrats are appointing these moderate Republicans to set up a Democratic win in the next election, the strategy worked in New York’s 23rd.

The stage is set for 2010.

Election Chatter

It appears that while Michael Flaherty and Sam Yoon have made the mayoral race here in Boston interesting, Thomas Menino, who has been Mayor for 16 years, will win again.  This is according to polls out over the weekend.  The debate tonight between Menino and Flaherty should be the final deciding factor.  As far as City Council goes, there are a number of interesting folks running – most of them young.  Hard to predict the 4 at-large winners.

Jon Corzine is likely to get reelected in New Jersey.  But the Democratic candidate in Virginia, Creigh Deeds, is likely to lose despite the Washington Post endorsement.  His opponent is Bob McDonnell is what I would call a right-wing religious nutcase who has written about a woman’s place.

If you live in Virginia and you’re planning to vote for governor in November, if you happen to be between ages 18 and 44 and you also just happen to be a woman, gubernatorial candidate R. Creigh Deeds has something he’d like to talk to you about.

It has to do with a certain graduate school thesis written by Deeds’s opponent, Robert F. McDonnell, in 1989. McDonnell wrote about how to use public policy to strengthen the traditional family and said that working women and feminism were “detrimental” to the family.

While this provided a surge for Deeds in September, it doesn’t look as if the surge is holding.  Of course, I know from having lived in Virginia working state government is like being on a roller coaster:  Democratic governors seems to care for state workers (and for Virginians who need their services) while Republicans do not.  And the Virginia electorate seems to need periodic reminders about how bad governors like George Allen are for the Commonwealth.

But the most interesting election news is the Pew Research Center poll about Obama.  A few days ago, Paul Krugman had an interesting post about the midterm (2010) elections.  I think most experts believe that the Democrats  will lose some seats, but not control of either the House or Senate.  

Lots of buzz about the possibility that 2010 will be another 1994, with the triumphant conservative majority sweeping back into its rightful place of power. And of course, anything is possible.

But the signs really don’t point to that.

You can obsess, if you like, about the generic Congressional ballot — but historical patterns suggest that this ballot is meaningless at this early date.

If we look at Obama’s personal position, it seems to have stabilized — and as the Pew people point out, he’s in relatively good shape:

 

DESCRIPTIONPew Research Center

 

And there’s one more thing which I think matters: Republicans don’t have anything positive to sell.

I think the Republicans are being too optimistic and the Democrats a little gun shy.  The Democrats should move on, pass health care reform with a public option and give people a meaningful reason to vote for them.