Election Analysis Of Last Night’s Results

Virginia Governor: Bob McDonnell (R) vs. Creigh Deeds (D)
Prediction: Likely Republican takeover. (90/10) that McDonnell wins.
Result: McDonnell (59%) vs. Deeds (41%)

Virginia is a key state for the Dems where they had been making a lot of progress. Jim Webb defeated George Allen for a Senate seat. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, is the current governor. Obama was the first Democrat to win the state since 1964 — and he won by a comfortable margin of 6 points.

So, when McDonnell absolutely crushed Deeds 59-41, it sent a powerful message about the political change that has taken place.

New Jersey Governor: Democrat Jon Corzine Vs. Republican Chris Christie Vs. Independent Chris Daggett.
Prediction: Slight Edge to Chris Christie: 60% chance of a victory and a Republican takeover.
Result: Christie (49%) vs. Corzine (45%) vs. Daggett (6%)

The implications of Chris Christie’s win are a bit less clear than the Virginia race. New Jersey is a Democratic state and Christie did manage to win despite being heavily outspent and having Daggett peel off some of his voters, but Jon Corzine was also a very damaged candidate.

In concert with Virginia, New Jersey should scare Dems, but on it’s own, it doesn’t send quite as much of a message as the Virginia race.

NY-23: Constitution party candidate Doug Hoffman vs. Democrat Bill Owen
Prediction: (75/25%) chance that Hoffman wins. That means it’s leaning towards a Constitution Party takeover of the district.
Result: Owens (49%) vs. Hoffman (46%) vs. Scozzafava (6%)

This loss was even bigger surprise than Christie’s win. Hoffman was ahead, outside of the margin of error, in the two polls that were taken after Scozzafava dropped out. He was ahead in the exit polls, which usually slant towards the Democrat. So, how did he lose? I noted yesterday that the Democrats seemed to have a better ground game and I’ve been told that the union made a big difference for Hoffman with their get out the vote effort.

As to the implications of the race, it’s a disappointing loss since so many conservatives backed Hoffman. However, were I the NRCC and RNC, I wouldn’t crow about anything because people are going to blame them for the loss — with some justification. They spent a huge sum of money promoting a horrible candidate who endorsed a Democrat and managed to attract more votes than Owens margin of victory despite the fact that she had withdrawn from the race.

You can be sure that this will be the race the press seizes on because it’s really the only significant bright spot for the Democrats, but it’s not as bright as they think. Hoffman has no charisma and the “Republican” in the race endorsed the Democrat, yet he only lost by 3 points. Combined, Hoffman and Scozzafava pulled in more votes than the Democrat as well. What that means is that in 2010, when there is another election, there will be a stronger Republican candidate in the race and that person will be highly likely to knock off Owens.

So, given how it played out, were conservatives right to challenge Scozzafava? Absolutely. Setting aside the fact that it was far from clear that she’d have won, the worst possible outcome would have been for her to win the seat because in a district like that, even a mediocre Democrat with an R beside of her name like Scozzafava might have been able to stay up there for 20 years.

Other races of note:

* Michael Bloomberg had a surprisingly close race:

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Bloomberg led Thompson 51 percent to 46 percent.

Bloomberg’s apparent victory comes after he changed the city’s constitution to lift a two-term limit.

Bloomberg, an independent candidate, had led Thompson, the city comptroller, by double digits in most pre-election surveys. Bloomberg has outspent his rival in TV ads by $33 million to $2.66 million.

Could this be an indication that there’s anti-incumbent mood out there? Perhaps, but it’s difficult to say when you have a liberal independent going up against a Democrat.

* Gay marriage lost in Maine:

Maine voters repealed the state’s same-sex law, according to the Bangor Daily News.

With 87 percent of precincts reporting, nearly 53 percent of voters chose to reject the law, with more than 47 percent voting to retain it, according to the Daily News.

When Gov. John Baldacci signed the legislation on May 6, he did so knowing there was a possibility that voters could overturn it. In September, opposition groups delivered the necessary signatures to get a vote.

When even the voters in MAINE are rejecting gay marriage, it says something.

Summary: The spin from the Democrats and their backers in the mainstream media will undoubtedly be that these races have nothing to do with the Democratic agenda. They’ll also play up the NY-23 race and Republican acrimony as much as possible. Furthermpre, in all fairness, it’s not always easy to make judgments about how the next year’s elections will turn out from the special elections the year before.

All that being said, it’s clear that a significant shift has occurred. The conservative base has gone from depressed to energized and the environment has changed from strongly pro-Democrat to strongly pro-Republican.

If you’re a Democrat in a competitive district or state, these results send you a message: it’s going to be much tougher for you at election time in 2010 than it was in 2008. The spinmeisters will tell you exactly the opposite, but if you’re Democrat, it’s very difficult not to notice that the “we can’t seem to lose” days of 2006 and 2008 have come to an end.

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