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Another off-year election is past, and the Republicans have made the most of the Democrat’s failures. The party that was pronounced all-but dead a year ago has taken the governorships of Virginia and New Jersey, and missed taking the strangely contested 23rd district in New York.
No word yet on voter turnout, but I’ll really stick my neck out here and say it was tiny, because it always is in off-year elections. I’ll also stick my neck out and say anyone with a pulse could have beat Corzine in New Jersey, so that one doesn’t really count as a political “weather vane”.
CNN is quietly reporting numbers while Fox can barely restrain the urge to shout and jump around high-fiving everyone in sight. So as usual we’re here to point out that all of this means very little.
The Virginia race is interesting, because it was such a down-and-dirty slugfest. The Republican national machine was really stoking coal into this one, and it paid-off. The Obama administration’s mis-steps of late certainly didn’t hurt, and the tussle over health care in congress may have had an effect. That last one is tough to gauge.
The 23rd congressional district race in New York was very interesting from a number of angles. First the local Republican organization ran a moderate, Dede Scozzafava, who had a real shot at the thing. But the conservative wing locally and nationally dug in their heels and the National Republican Congressional committee actually backed the Conservative Party candidate, Doug Hoffman. Scozzafava suspended her campaign, then endorsed her opponent Democrat Bill Owens, who won. So besides providing the plot for a great soap opera the district race revealed the very deep divide within the Republican party between moderates and conservatives. It also bought some PR for the Conservative Party. I still can’t determine exactly who these people are. If you Google them you get a mixed-bag of results, and it even looks as if there may be more than one “Conservative Party”.
Fox claims voters in Maine have repealed a same-sex marriage law, while CNN says it’s still too close to call. At the same time they (apparently) denied equal rights to gay people Maine decided smoking weed is cool, and passed a medical marijuana initiative.
Then there are the usual mayoral races no one really cares about, except in Houston it looks very good for an openly gay female candidate to take the race – significant because Houston is the fourth-largest city in the nation. Still no result there.
Of course the wonks and talking heads are already speculating on the effect all this will have on Obama, on the 2010 elections, and the fortunes of the Republican and Democrat parties. That’s how they make their living, after all. But the truth is this election has just about no significance one way or the other. It’s an off-year election. There’s a lot of 24/7 cable news time to run between now and next year.