November 4, 2009
Forget the 2-1 Spin; It Was a RoutBy C. Edmund Wright
The Democrats did not lose a 2-1 squeaker last night. They lost two huge races, saw an overall evaporation of 25 basis points of support -- and lost by nearly 500,000 cumulative votes in the three high-profile elections.
Or put another way, Republicans won two races decided by millions of voters -- and Democrats won a small race dominated by party operatives. In addition, the GOP made some historic gains in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Washington state special elections to boot.
In the context of Bob McDonnell's huge win in Virginia and Chris Christie's surprisingly comfortable win in New Jersey, of all places, the fact that Bill Owens scraped up enough votes to win NY-23 is a testament to the superior political insider maneuvering of the Democrats over the Republicans. So you mean the GOP party apparatus stinks? Well yes, but I think we knew that already.
What we did not know was just how overwhelming the anti-Democrat tide would be among voters. In the three talked-about races, it was a blowout of something like 55%-42% overall in precincts that voted for Obama 56%-44% just a year ago. The raw totals will end up a tad under 2.4 million GOP votes to 1.9 million for the Democrats in round numbers.
So don't buy into any 2-1 split-decision analysis. It was a stunning reversal of a full quarter of the electorate in one year's time.
For the record, Barack Obama "voted present" by not even watching the election returns -- let alone commenting -- as his party suffered the massive 25% reversal. (Okay, I don't believe White House reports that he didn't watch, but who could blame him a little fib considering the magnitude of the actual loss?)
The stunning stat of the night might be this: that McDonnell beat Creigh Deeds by a thousand times the margin he did in 2005. Or it might be that Christie overcame a 700,000 party voter disadvantage to win a race with about two million total voters. Or it may be that all this happened with zero references to "reaching across the aisle" or mavericks. So what does this mean?
It means Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and "big tent" politics just suffered a huge electoral defeat. Likely the same can be said of whatever this week's Obama-Baucus-Bogus-Consumer-Ponzi-Care bill is being passed around these days. To quote CNBC's politically-minded financial analyst Jerry Bowyer, the 1,900-page health care bill is "now pulp." He made that call before 8 p.m. eastern.
None of this will be in the White House spin, of course -- but at the risk of offending the sensibilities of the suddenly decorum-focused Pelosi -- any attempt by the Democrats to candy-coat or minimize what happened last night is nothing less than a bunker-mentality fantasy.
Here is the breakdown race by race:
VIRGINIA: The result could be the name of a Star Wars Droid: R 60 D 40.
This was almost like an actual generic ballot election. Populous Northern Virginia is heavily dominated by the Washington media, and national news and voters responded to that. Virginians voted loud and clear to reject Obama and his party as McDonnell routed Deeds by almost 19 points. For those scoring at home, that's a 26-point swing towards Republicans -- or away from Democrats -- in precisely one year. The last time McDonnell ran against Deeds for Attorney General in 2005, McDonnell won by only 323 votes statewide. That was the closest race in Virginia's history. Last night, he won by over 320,000 votes.
And there is much evidence that what mattered was the party symbol, not the candidate's name. Actually, the symbol that mattered was the D -- and Virginians voted against the D. Some are saying that the key was a very disciplined and down-the-middle campaign by McDonnell against a poor Deeds campaign. Maybe. But that does not explain why all the down ballot races almost exactly mirrored that of the Governor's race.
Even a Frank Luntz focus group -- not known for attracting conservatives or particularly knowledgeable voters -- said it was about national issues and the Obama agenda by an overwhelming majority. In short, this was D versus R, or at least D versus anything else.
And you can bet that three so-called "blue dog" Democrats in Congress are taking a look at the tallies. According to Michael Barone, McDonnell won the three districts where freshman blue dog Democrats live by 62%-38%, 61%-39%, and 55%-45%. I think ObamaCare might have just lost three blue dogs in the Commonwealth.
NEW JERSEY: This win carries a lot of weight!
In Democrat stronghold New Jersey, the revulsion and rejection factor of Democrats continued in a major way. While Christie was given a decent chance in recent polling, in historical context this is a stunner. In a state where Obama carried 59% of the vote in 2008, incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine struggled to reach 44%. Corzine publicly hitched his wagon to the Obama White House, and whether or not the White House likes it, they are in the mire of this incredible defeat.
Corzine had twice as much money, a lot more Democrats to mobilize, the multiple Obama appearances, and a third-party candidate hand-picked to mess up Christie -- and yet he still lost. Even Juan Williams admitted this loss "was big" for the Democrats. Sure Corzine is wealthy, corrupt, and a tax-raiser, but that never stopped Democrats from winning in New Jersey before. Almost all of them are all of those things in the Garden State.
NEW YORK 23: The Obama White House machine was far superior here to an awful local Republican Party.
Without a doubt, Hoffman's loss takes a bit of sheen off the night. Having said that, a single race involving roughly a hundred thousand voters in odd circumstances is not the equal of multi-million vote governors' races. Don't let the Obama spin fool you with all the talk about the GOP losing a district they had held since the Civil War. Obama carried that district by 5 points in 2008. Moreover, he tapped the Republican House Member from this district for a minor cabinet post for the express purpose of hoping the Dems could win an open seat. That was good tactical politics.
When local Republicans anointed the extremely liberal Dede Scozzafava without a primary, they were asking for trouble. You can call that awful tactical politics. Scozzafava's endorsement of Owens validated conservative activists and those like Sarah Palin and Fred Thompson in backing Hoffman. That an inexperienced candidate -- with much of the official local GOP machinery pouting on the sidelines -- lost to a suddenly very well-funded Obama-machine candidate is really no surprise. For all the national hoopla about Hoffman, the on-the-ground reality is that the Obama hacks beat the GOP hacks in the game of turnout and tactics. Is anyone surprised that the local Republican operatives would be outplayed?
In short, the night showed that the tea party movement and the palpable bubbling up of a conservative ascendancy is no joke. It would seem to indicate that a repeat of '93-'94 (fueled by HillaryCare) is at least possible in 2009-2010 (fueled by ObamaCare and all other symptoms of malignant government). Certainly last night was superior to those in 1993 when the GOP swept Democrats out of state houses in Jersey and Virginia by any statistical measure.
And it needs to be. Our Republic is in more danger than we were in 1993 -- by any statistical measure. We won bigger, but it was absolutely necessary that we did. And that's the proper spin of election night 2009.