Last night felt like a birthday party where people brought balloons and streamers from Virginia. Someone brought a cake from New Jersey. It was going great until someone from the 23rd district in New York showed up, but forgot the ice cream. All told, it was a good party. Ice cream would have been nice, but we still had a great night. Here are 5 takeaways from last night's elections. Think of them as party favors.
1. If You Had to Lose One Election, NY-23 Was The Best Choice
With Republicans winning the Virginia gubernatorial election handily and the New Jersey gubernatorial surprisingly, New York's 23rd district going to the Democrat is a minor loss by comparison. We get another shot at the seat next year, and even though the election of two Republican governors does not help the situation in congress at all, it does send a clear message to the country that a shift is happening. Just look at that lovely picture of Virginia. It went for Obama by 6 points last year, but they chose a Republican for governor this year who won by 17 points. Sa-wing!
Obama won New Jersey by a thrashing 14 points last year. This year, it seems, hopenchange has lost it's shine with the Republican Chris Christie winning by a fat 4 points. Get it? Cause he's fat.
2. Early Voting is a Bad Idea
In NY-23 Dede Scozzafava received 7,137 votes. Scozzafava... who dropped out of the race five days earlier... received seven thousand votes. Are people stupid and that uninformed? Yes, but that doesn't account for her numbers. These are probably all early votes and absentee ballots. While there's not much you can do to avoid absentee voting (you might be in the military or otherwise out of state), you don't have to vote early. It's not like off-year elections draw huge lines of people or something. I wonder how many of these voters would have gone with Hoffman, if they were given the chance to amend their ballot. He would need about 75% of them to compete with Owens, but given that Scozzafava was the Republican candidate, that might not be too far off.
In short, you never know what's going to happen in an election, so hold off voting early. What if the candidate you're backing admits to something horrific like a rape or something, You would probably give anything to change your vote. If you voted early, you can't do that. Or what if, say, your candidate drops out of the race at the final hour and a worse candidate wins by just a few votes over a third, more amicable choice. Wouldn't you like to change that vote? This is the lesson for voters from NY-23.
3. Pundits Don't Have a Clue (And Polls Suck)
Polls showed Hoffman up by slim margins in NY-23, and everyone knew New Jersey was going to be close, but would probably go Democrat. Conservative pundits were already speculating on how slim the democratic victory could be that would still allow the GOP to claim a shift in New Jersey. Don't trust the polls. Listen to, but don't follow blindly, the pundits. In the end, the voters will show you the only poll that matters.
4. 2010 Still Looks Like a Democratic Bloodbath
Powerful shifts for the GOP in two Obama states should have all congressional democrats up in 2010 shaking in their collectivist boots. Why? Didn't Democrats pick up a bunch of seats last year? Yes, but this time around there are two factors hurting them.
First, Obama won't be on the ballot. Or more importantly, people won't be breathlessly filling in the straight-ticket vote in order to vote Obama. 2010 will bring out a slightly more informed voter base and that's always bad for Democrats.
Second, people will see through liberal policies and know that they only lead yo debt and despair. $1.4 trillion in debt this year alone with next year only looking to become worse. When you remove pretty-boy Obama from pushing these policies (and instead have stretchy-face Pelosi), the thought of trillions of dollars in debt will hopefully be a powerful reason to vote for the GOP in 2010.
5. The Power of Obama Failed the Democrats
Obama campaigned heavily on behalf of Corzine in New Jersey... and he lost. Obama campaigned for Deeds in Virginia... and he lost. Obama never showed up in NY-23, and the Democrat, Owens, won. Last night wasn't only a referendum against liberal policies, but, perhaps more importantly, it was a strong statement Obama's ability to drag Democrats across the finish line when his name isn't on the ballot. And that's a good thing.
So set your sights on 2010 and set the long-range goal of 2012. Each has its own challenges, but I think 2012 will prove to be a much harder campaign because if there's one thing Obama does well, it's campaign for office. In fact, that's all he ever does. Enjoy the glow today, but don't let up. We still have work to do.