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.