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2009 campaign takeaway: negative ads not (always) effective

Would-be Jon Corzines are quaking in their boots (and heels).  Having watched firsthand an unpopular Democratic Governor win reelection in the Golden State in 2002 by trashing his opponent, I thought the New Jersey Democrat’s nasty campaign might have worked.

My opinion of Garden State voters improved dramatically last night.  They are not as numbed by images on the boob tube as are their counterparts in California.  Or maybe it’s the times.  The way we get our news has changed dramatically in the last 7 years.

Despite spending $20 million in ads trashing Chris Christie, Jon Corzine lost to that good Republican.  That conscientious prosecutor won with the largest margin of victory of any New Jersey Republican in 24 years — since the very popular Governor Thomas Kean’s reelection in 1985.

With unemployment in the Golden State the highest it’s been since World War II, having increased by 33% since the state’s junior Senator, Ma’am Barbara Boxer, was first elected during a recession in 1992, that Democrat is going to have a hard time running on her record and is likely to pull a tactic (or two) from the bag of tricks she used in her successful 1992 and 1998 campaigns, trash her opponent and avoid taking questions from the media.

But, will she be able to succeed in a political world reshaped by blogs and the internet?

Maine & Washington Results Indicate New Gay Leadership Needed

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:54 pm - November 4, 2009.
Filed under: 2009 Elections,Gay Marriage,Gay Politics

I will wait to write a more comprehensive post on gay issues and the 2009 elections when we get final returns from Washington State where a measure to uphold the state’s Domestic Partnership program currently clings to a narrow lead.  If that margin holds, the Evergreen State will be the first state where voters ratified a state law recognizing same-sex unions.  In Arizona in 2006, voters rejected a sweeping measure which would have banned recognition of same-sex marriages as well as domestic partnerships.

The margin, in this socially liberal state, is way too close for comfort.

With 31 states having voted on gay marriage, Maine became the 31st to vote against it.

These results make clear that new leadership is needed in the gay movement.  If the heads of the various gay organizations, including and especially those devoted to “marriage equality,” didn’t get the message last year after the passage of Proposition 8 in California, they should get it today after the passage of Question 1 in Maine.

So, Joe, Evan, Geoff, Kate, the door is thattaway.

UPDATE:  To accent my point about the need for new leadership, take note of this tidbit.  Question 1 passed in Maine

despite a massive outpouring of resources by gay rights groups. Gay marriage advocates spent an estimated $4 milion defending the law, while opponents reportedly spent about $2.5 million.

Barone: the ‘burbs are back for the GOP

Last night, on FoxNews Michael Barone delivered his interpretation of the election results.  Unlike other big name pundits, he looked beyond the big races and found some significant trends in the contests to which others weren’t paying much attention.

After that sage political prognosticator he pointed out that the Republican won a resounding victory in New York’s Westchester County (where Obama captured nearly two-thirds of the vote last fall), I quickly googled the jurisdiction and found that Republican County Executive-elect Rob Astorino wasn’t the only Republican to oust an incumbent Democrat in that suburban county adjacent to the Big Apple.   Other Westchester Republicans, while not winning, ran well ahead of their party’s standard bearer in the 2008 presidential election.

Republican Susan Siegel ousted incumbent Democrat Donald Peters for Yorktown supervisor while her fellow partisan Charles Duffy ousted Democrat Edward Brancali for the same post in Lewisboro. Republicans ousted incumbent Democratic Mayors in Mamaroneck and Rye.

To be sure, these are small races, but they hardly show a party reduced to rump status.

Barone found that the results in Westchester County were not unique. Crediting “longtime Democratic pollster and political analyst Pat Caddell,” he found “affluent suburban voters moved sharply toward Republicans in 2009”:

Bergen County, New Jersey, a 56%-42% Corzine constituency in 2005, came within a point or two of voting for Christie, and in Virginia McDonnell carried 51%-49% Fairfax County—Republican for years but recently in cultural issues and with an increasing immigrant population Democratic (60%-39% Obama in 2008). . . .

From the 1996 election up through and including 2008., affluent counties in the East, Midwest and West have trended Democratic, largely through distaste for the religious and cultural conservatives whom voters there have seen (not without reason) as dominant in the Republican party. Now, with the specter of higher tax rates and a vastly expanded public sector, they may be—possibly—headed in the other direction. An interesting trend to watch.

This year, however, the tax issue resonates.  As does opposition to Democrats’ big-government initiatives.

This should serve as a sign to the GOP of how to wage future campaigns. Republicans thinking about running in next fall’s elections would do well to listen closely to Governor-elect Chris Christie’s speech last night where he outlined his agenda to turn Trenton (the state capital) “upside down.”  People want change–and the kind of changes Republicans like Ronald Reagan have been talking about  for more than forty years now.

Maine Voters Reject Gay Marriage

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:27 am - November 4, 2009.
Filed under: 2009 Elections,Gay Marriage

Given that the elected legislature had passed and the elected Governor had signed the law in Maine recognizing same-sex marriage, I had expected the dynamics of the race to be a little different in the Pine Tree State.  But, the result is nearly identical to that in the Golden State just one year ago.  With 87% of the vote in, 52.8% of the state’s citizens voted to reject the law.

On the other side of the country, in the Evergreen State, an initiative to approve the state’s domestic partnership law is ahead by about 2 points with half of all precincts reporting.  If that margin holds, it would confirm polls showing increasing support for state recognition of same-sex civil unions, but steady opposition to gay marriage.  In every state where citizens have been asked about gay marriage, they have voted it down, but by smaller margins than when such referenda first appeared on American ballots.

Methinks that for now, we should focus on getting state recognition of civil unions, but the closeness of the Washington State result is striking.  The state, like others on the West Coast is socially liberal, particularly in its western counties.  And there are likely many Republicans who voted to approve the Domestic Partnership proposal.

My biggest fear about the Maine vote is that the President will use it as an excuse not to move forward on issues of concern to the gay community, particularly repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell.

FROM THE COMMENTS:  DaveO gets it:

No on 1 made the same mistake that No on 8 made in California. It WAS a vote on “Equality”, or at least that’s how that side tried to portray it. They just don’t get that fuzzy terms like “Equality” only appeal to liberal Democrats with guilty consciences and pretty much to no one else.

That’s just one reason we needed new gay leadership, not individuals beholden to such socialist-sounding words as “equality.”

Why Doug Hoffman lost

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:42 am - November 4, 2009.
Filed under: 2009 Elections,Media Bias

In New Jersey, “union brass knuckles were not enough to carry” New Jersey’s Democratic Governor “over the finish line,” but union support likely made the difference in Bill Owens narrow victory in New York’s 23rd congressional district.  Earlier today (Tuesday), when I heard on the news that with Dede Scozzafava’s endorsement meant of the Democrat meant that unions which had previously been divided were now united behind Owens, I felt a disturbance in the force.

The good feeling I had about today’s elections was tarnished a bit.  Given the haphazard nature of Hoffman’s campaign, I doubted he had the chance to organize a good ground game, essential to victory in a special election. He may have the enthusiasm, but the unions had the organization.  It seems to have paid off.  As did Rahm Emanuel’s gamble.

Something else too may have hurt Hoffman.  The media attempt to portray him as a right-wing extremist surely hurt him with libertarian voters in the district.  They made Scozzafava out to be a moderate and attributed conservative dissatisfaction with the one-time GOP nominee to her “moderate” stands on social issues and not her liberal positions on fiscal one.

The Scozzafava endorsement clearly helped; Owens was leading in Jefferson County, her “strongest territory.”  Given that he has represented the area, she has certainly earned the affection of many of her constiuents.

A disappointment, to be sure, but a reminder that, in special election, organization matters.

And as to Nick’s point, I’ll just say that I think Congressman-elect Owens arrives neutered by the results in the Garden State and the margin in the Old Dominion.  The political class can’t ignore that the Washington Post’s best efforts notwithstanding, Bob McDonnell won Fairfax County, being, I believe, the first Republican to do so this century.  His victory, in short, does nothing to advance the Obama agenda.

While Owens may not have run as far behind Obama as did Corzine and Deeds, he did run three points behind the Democratic presidential nominee.

Why Tonight Was Such a Disappointment (and Such a Concern)

Posted by ColoradoPatriot at 12:30 am - November 4, 2009.
Filed under: 2009 Elections,A New Independence Movement

I know, I know. I should really be counting my blessings. And I hate to piss on our parade. A HUGE sweep in Virginia (expected) and an incredibly pleasant surprise up in New Jersey (I have to be honest, I wasn’t counting on that, but WOW!). All GOPers should be glad this morning as both major candidates of the party were successful in knocking the ruling power of these two states out and replacing them with Republicans.

On the other hand, I have to say…

Now, I’m a Republican–registered and active (as far as the Hatch Act allows me)–and as such, I’m bully for our side, as they say. But I’m first and foremost, beyond party affiliation, a small-government, low-tax, individual-liberty small-‘l’ libertarian. And from that perspective, something else happened last night:

In a solidly (for over a century, we’re constantly being told) Republican district, the clear fiscal conservative lost in (ostensibly) a two-man race against a leftist lawyer. While the constituencies of New Jersy and Virginia alone each dwarf that of NY-23, and together render it completely negligable, something larger happened last night that gives me great pause as to the direction of our great Nation.

It’s not simply a (yet another) Congressional rubber-stamp vote for the Stalinization of the American health care industry, massive tax increases, enormous government expansion and Pelosiesque class warfare that was garnered last night. It was, in a conservative district a repudiation of smaller government and lower taxes, fiscal responsibility and individual liberty. Clearly the only candidate in NY-23 last night running on shaping the US the way small-government, small-‘l’ libertarians desire lost. And not in Manhattan or Hollywood. Not in Hyde Park or Washington, DC. In rural, upstate New York.

The entire NY-23 episode was a healthy blood-letting for the GOP, yes. We have proven to all who question that ours is the party of fiscal restraint, personal responsibilty, individual freedom, and smaller Federal government. Ask Ms. Scuzzafava about that.

But a bigger question seems to remain, thanks to Congressman-elect Bill Owens: Can we turn these core American beliefs into an actual movement? This summer’s tea parties and rallies against big-government gave me hope about a new American sense of Independence. The repudiation of this newly-reborn sense of respect for our founding principles last night in (of all places) upstate New York gives me great concern about our Nation and its ability to embrace these precepts that are the very basis of our unique experiment in the first place.

The bottom-line is this: Over the past 9 months, we have heard every political pundit and web-spinner worth his salt interpreting poll results and the general mood of the Country as basically this:

While the president remains terribly popular on a personal level, Americans are en-masse revolting against his policies. They like Barack Obama; they just don’t like what he’s trying to do. His personal approval ratings are still quite high, but his policies are terribly unpopular.

Bla, bla bla.

Virginia and (to an even greater extent) New Jersey tell us that President Obama is wildly unpopular. Not able even to deliver the bluest-of-blue Garden State to an incumbent(!), and the gubernatorial vote swinging about 25% from his victory in last year’s presidential contest clearly shows that the president’s political wave has ebbed to say the least. On the other hand, a red district (historically, yes, I know it went to Obama last year) in rural New York just sent a guaranteed vote for Nancy Pelosi and every cockamaime big-government Leftist scheme to the House of Representatives. This turns every political analysis of the past spring, summer, and fall on its ear.

From where I’m standing, I’d have traded New Jersey and Virginia for NY-23. Am I crazy? Please say so.

-Nick (ColoradoPatriot, from HQ)

Republican Ousts Democratic County Exec in NY’s Westchester

Just watched Michael Barone on FoxNews and he alerts us to really big news in New York’s Westchester County.   Republican Rob Astorino ousted incumbent Andy Spano with 57.65 of the vote.  Obama carried the county last fall with 63.39% of the vote.  Astorino ran more than twenty points ahead of John McCain.

Seems Republicans are once again relevant in socially liberal suburbs.  They’re going to need to sound a lot like New Jersey’s Govenor-elect who also ran ahead of John McCain in those once-Republican suburbs.