Prior to the gubernatorial elections which were held on November 2, 2009, Larry Sabato, the widely respected University of Virginia professor of political science and political observer, was quoted as saying:
“If the GOP should win both New Jersey and Virginia, then there will be a longer and more pro-Republican spin put on the off-off-year elections, and the commentary will last longer – possibly enabling Republican candidate recruiters for 2010 to score some big catches.”
Karl Rove, in a pre-election analysis, said:
“Tuesday’s election will provide the most tangible evidence so far of how strong a backlash is building and just how frightened centrist Democrats should be of 2010.”
The dust has now settled after Republicans scored convincing wins in Virginia and New Jersey. Republican Bob McDonnell won his election for Governor in Virginia by a startling 17.4 points and in New Jersey, Republican Chris Christie won by a convincing 4.2 points in what was expected to be a very close race, despite being outspent by a 3 to 1 margin. These Republican victories are especially significant because only one year ago, President Obama carried New Jersey easily with 57% of the vote and also won Virginia with 53% of the vote. It is also noteworthy that Virginia is the home state of the current Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who also serves as the current Governor of the State.
In the aftermath of the election, Karl Rove wrote in the November 4, 2009, edition of the WALL STREET JOURNAL:
“Tuesday’s elections should put a scare into red state Democrats – and a few blue ones, too.” (He also noted that Republicans swept six of seven statewide contests in Pennsylvania as well).
Karl’s basic analysis was that on November 2, suburban and independent voters moved to the GOP (13 points in Virginia; 12 points in New Jersey; and 8 points in Pennsylvania), where they had voted in much larger numbers for Obama one year earlier. His final conclusion was that “[e]ven a five point swing in 2010 could bring a tidal wave of change…[ in the 2010 congressional elections].” Senator Joe Lieberman (D.-Conn.) seemed to confirm Karl’s analysis when he stated that there was “a very large and quick move of independents” away from the Democratic Party and that public fears of the rising debt are at a “tipping point”.
Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi, who is also Chairman of the Republican Governors’ Association (RGA) stated:
“Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie proved that voters everywhere are looking for leaders who focus on growing jobs, keeping taxes low, and strengthening the economy. They showed that by focusing on pocketbook issues, Republicans can win anywhere in 2010.” It is noteworthy that the RGA invested more than $7 million in New Jersey and $5 million in Virginia, in the November 2 races.
In perhaps the most insightful commentary on the November 2 elections (“Voters are Desperate for Political Leadership”, WSJ, Nov.5, 2009), Dan Henninger wrote:
“Welcome to the permanent American Tea Party….That electorates in two politically significant states, led by the widening independent movement, could swing within one year from enthusiasm for electing Barack Obama [to support for two Republican gubernatorial candidates] is simply astonishing. Add another American metaphor to the political landscape: the cattle stampede. Independent voters across the U.S. have become like the massive cattle herd John Wayne drove from Texas to Kansas in ‘Red River’. These voters are spooked and on the run, a political stampede that veered left in November, 2008, and now right a mere one year later.”
Henninger also noted that in the nine months from the failure of Lehman Brothers to the bankruptcy and nationalization of General Motors, the American people were “riveted to news of economic distress.”
My take on all of this? I believe that Republicans, both here in Mississippi and nationally, have a huge opportunity to make a comeback in the 2010 congressional elections and that the voters want to place a check on the President and his associates, particularly Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Americans sense that the country has reached a long-term economic tipping point and are looking for stable political leaders that will not bankrupt the country. Unless Republicans can provide that leadership, the stampede will continue.
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