What Tuesday’s Elections Really Mean

6 Nov

confused-elephant425Yesterday was election day for many parts of the country. Because it isn’t a Congressional election year, a handful of high-profile races dominated the airwaves and will be over-analyzed into the next big electorate meme. Even with one major — and expected — Republican victory, progressives have a lot to celebrate. Let’s start with a quick look at the results.

  • In New York City, Democrat, progressive, and all-around good guy Bill de Blasio crushed conservative Joe Lhota 73 – 24.
  • Sadly, across the river in New Jersey, Republican Governor Chris Christie handily won re-election by 23 points.
  • Most eyes were on Virginia, one of the few remaining true swing states, where the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General offices were all up for grabs. The news is mostly good for progressives. Terry McAuliffe beat the odious Ken Cuccinelli, 48 – 45 to become the next Governor and the unhinged E.W. Jackson lost his bid for Lt. Governor to Ralph Northam by ten points. The AG race is too close to call, with either candidate leading by less than 1,000 depending on whose results you see.

It’s still early, but the emerging theme is that the GOP must moderate its views and steer clear of their tight ties to the Tea Party to win, with hypothetical moderate Christie being compared to clear conservative Cuccinelli. While common sense and demographic trends might support the basic argument, the comparison is deeply flawed.

Christie is an outlier. He’s a skilled politician who has been elected twice as a Republican Governor in a very Democratic state. Somehow he manages to appeal on an “independent thinker” model that splits the ticket. Two thoughts about the Christie myth. First, he’s no moderate. He vetoed marriage equality and worked hard to limit the power of unions. His moderate actions were either clear compromises with a very Democratic legislature (labor, education) or calculated political theatre (banning conversion therapy for teens). His stands must be viewed through the lens of a crafty politician who has been angling for the 2016 GOP Presidential nod for years. Which brings up the second point: even in NJ Christie would lose a hypothetical presidential matchup to Hillary Clinton by at least six points. The real lesson here? Chris Christie is a talented politician in a unique situation that manages to still sell hate in a pretty package with a bow on top.

Virginia tells us more. The big lesson is for Democrats: Terry McAuliffe is hardly well-loved, but he ran a strong, progressive campaign including support for marriage equality and gun restrictions. He won in a very purple state. Tacking to the center would have made the contest more confusing and might have cost him — Democrats need to remember this. On the other hand, he won by less than 3% when polls had him up by an average of 7%. That indicates that Cuccinelli’s very conservative positions appealed to more people than were willing to admit it to pollsters. That counters the Christie logic pretty strongly. Virginia is also a borderline southern state, closer to the heart of the GOP power and more indicative of what will happen as the stage is set for 2016.

In short, there is happy news and mixed news. Progressives values can win — de Blasio and McAuliffe modelled that nicely. The GOP, however, is still experiencing confusion and internal tension. The Tea Party base is still churning up very conservative candidates in primaries. While the results so far — with Cuccinelli joining the ranks of Christine O’Donnell and Todd Akin — are good for Democrats, the times that one of these candidates wins the big race are dire indeed. Democrats can’t count on a GOP implosion, because complacency could easily see President Cruz in 2017. Oy! Perish the thought!

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14 Responses to “What Tuesday’s Elections Really Mean”

  1. Central Oregon Coast NOW November 6, 2013 at 7:07 am #

    Reblogged this on Central Oregon Coast NOW.

  2. Jueseppi B. November 6, 2013 at 7:09 am #

    Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat™.

  3. Diane November 6, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    And they’re still talking stupid talk about rape and gay rights so I expect more of them to get booted out of office as time goes along.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 6, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

      Diane, the misogyny and homophobia are getting so old and tired. I do hope you are right. I hope these people will be voted out of office. Thank you for commenting here.

  4. eurobrat November 6, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    And sadly, in our northwest corner of the country a measure to require labels for genetically modified foods was defeated after a huge influx of out-of-state money (Monsanto anyone?) Thank you for a nice analysis of the outcome of last night’s biggest races.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 6, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

      Oy! Monsanto is such a horrific company. How do we try and contain them?

      • eurobrat November 7, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

        Good question. There are times when I wonder if it’s possible :( I mean, the GMO labeling thing was something which had high support in local polls…but millions of dollars and a misleading ad campaign later, it still went down in defeat.

  5. Will S. November 7, 2013 at 3:41 am #

    Excellent analysis! I have the same mixed feelings about Colorado’s elections, where a tax on legal marijuana (benefiting education funding and paying for regulation of the weed) passed easily, but a tiny increase in state income tax (an average of $133 a year) to further fund schools in Colorado (we’re in the bottom 20% for education funding per student) went down in flames. Almost as if the electorate were saying “Let’s definitely raise taxes on those undesirables, but I’m not willing to skip Starbucks once a week to pay for educating kids.”

    C’est la vie, I guess. The state, as well as the country, are getting bluer every day. It’s only a matter of time (I hope) before something as simple as “education funds have to be spent in the classroom” isn’t a controversy.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 7, 2013 at 5:56 am #

      Will, thank you for commenting here. It is so disturbing how folks can be so shortsighted that they don’t see the harm in this “no new taxes” mentality. I am so curious, and invite all to help me navigate this: what are the benefits to the greater society (the social contract) in not paying more taxes and creating new taxes? We already know that the burden disproportionately falls upon the lower middle class and deeply impacts those in poverty.

  6. cadesertvoice November 7, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    Reblogged this on cadesertvoice.

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