Reading the tea leaves - elections have consequences

Rick Moran
Rich Baehr, AT's Political Correspondent and prognosticator extraordinaire, was in unusually fine form on my radio show last night. With his usual aplomb, he went down the list of the major races, outlining where he thought the polls showed the electorate.

He was cautious about both New Jersey and NY23, laying out the problems for Christie and Hoffman - problems Christie was able to overcome and Hoffman was unable to.

At any rate, Rich was on in the first hour and was really good. But now that all the races have been called, what do we know?

The White House and their lapdogs in the press are downplaying any connection to the president's popularity. That might be easier to do in New Jersey where the scuzzball incumbent was hugely unpopular but much more difficult in Virginia where Bob McDonnell made absolute mincemeat of the Democrat Creigh Deeds. And to pour a little vinegar in that wound, the two other state wide races also went hugely for the Republican.

In fact, I think the real surprise of the night was the margin of victory by McDonnell. Deeds ran 12 points behind Obama's total from a year ago, getting nearly 60% of the vote. And as Michael Barone pointed out, in both VA and NJ, key demographic groups appeared to be moving back toward Republicans, including upper middle class suburban voters. If the GOP can win groups like that back in majorities that would be close to what they were in 2004, that really puts Republicans back on the national map in at least a half dozen states like Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Indiana, and Colorado to name a few.

I think most pundits have it right in declaring New Jersey a referendum on a bad governor rather than any message voters are sending to Obama. Corzine, a corruptocrat, sickened the good folks of the Garden State with his stewardship. Christie benefited from both his own well run campaign and disgust with Corzine. Fully 27% of people who think Obama is doing a good job voted for the Republican according to Nate Silver. And that would seem to indicate a victory over a slimy politician rather than a vote with national overtones.

And NY23? Message sent. The national attention paid to this race may have hurt Hoffman as Jazz Shaw reported on my show last night his own family and friends in NY23 really hated the press being around. That and Scozzafava's traitorous endorsement of Owens, along with a confusing ballot where regular Republicans voted straight line GOP not realizing that Scozzafava was out of the race. and it all adds up to a narrow loss for Hoffman.

The mossbacks in DC are the ones who are really responsible for the loss. They are responsible for helping to put Dede up in the first place, and then for trashing conservatives for raising their voices against her. I doubt whether they learned anything, but we'll see.

All in all, a very good night for the GOP. Despite the spin, this will definitely make a lot of those moderates and Blue Dog Democrats want to run for cover - especially on health care reform.

One thing is sure; Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid's lives all just got a lot more complicated.

Rich Baehr, AT's Political Correspondent and prognosticator extraordinaire, was in unusually fine form on my radio show last night. With his usual aplomb, he went down the list of the major races, outlining where he thought the polls showed the electorate.

He was cautious about both New Jersey and NY23, laying out the problems for Christie and Hoffman - problems Christie was able to overcome and Hoffman was unable to.

At any rate, Rich was on in the first hour and was really good. But now that all the races have been called, what do we know?

The White House and their lapdogs in the press are downplaying any connection to the president's popularity. That might be easier to do in New Jersey where the scuzzball incumbent was hugely unpopular but much more difficult in Virginia where Bob McDonnell made absolute mincemeat of the Democrat Creigh Deeds. And to pour a little vinegar in that wound, the two other state wide races also went hugely for the Republican.

In fact, I think the real surprise of the night was the margin of victory by McDonnell. Deeds ran 12 points behind Obama's total from a year ago, getting nearly 60% of the vote. And as Michael Barone pointed out, in both VA and NJ, key demographic groups appeared to be moving back toward Republicans, including upper middle class suburban voters. If the GOP can win groups like that back in majorities that would be close to what they were in 2004, that really puts Republicans back on the national map in at least a half dozen states like Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Indiana, and Colorado to name a few.

I think most pundits have it right in declaring New Jersey a referendum on a bad governor rather than any message voters are sending to Obama. Corzine, a corruptocrat, sickened the good folks of the Garden State with his stewardship. Christie benefited from both his own well run campaign and disgust with Corzine. Fully 27% of people who think Obama is doing a good job voted for the Republican according to Nate Silver. And that would seem to indicate a victory over a slimy politician rather than a vote with national overtones.

And NY23? Message sent. The national attention paid to this race may have hurt Hoffman as Jazz Shaw reported on my show last night his own family and friends in NY23 really hated the press being around. That and Scozzafava's traitorous endorsement of Owens, along with a confusing ballot where regular Republicans voted straight line GOP not realizing that Scozzafava was out of the race. and it all adds up to a narrow loss for Hoffman.

The mossbacks in DC are the ones who are really responsible for the loss. They are responsible for helping to put Dede up in the first place, and then for trashing conservatives for raising their voices against her. I doubt whether they learned anything, but we'll see.

All in all, a very good night for the GOP. Despite the spin, this will definitely make a lot of those moderates and Blue Dog Democrats want to run for cover - especially on health care reform.

One thing is sure; Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid's lives all just got a lot more complicated.