Free Markets, Free People

Analyzing Last Night’s Vote

Michael is of the opinion that last night’s results tell us fiscal conservatism is back in vogue. I think there’s certainly a hint of that in the VA win. What is certainly true is voters in VA rejected the Democratic message. And more remarkable was the fact that they rejected it down ticket as well – a sweep for the Reps. Not only that, they picked up majorities in heavily Democratic suburbs.  The size of the victory was stunning, to say the least.

But was it a rejection of the Democrat’s principles, an embrace of fiscal conservatism, a repudiation of the Obama administration or simply a reflection of the unease people feel with the economy and a belief Republicans handle that better? Or was it a little of all of those things?

What I’m driving at is both sides have a tendency to read too much into electoral wins, take off on a tear and find themselves on the losing side the next time around. The VA win, of all of the votes last night, was the biggest win for the GOP. But they need to temper their assessment so they, like the Democrats have, don’t overreach.

NJ, on the other hand, was a horse of a different color – or should I say donkey. Corzine had abysmal poll numbers well in front of the election. One of the biggest concerns among voters there was the corruption in government – it was rampant. And interestingly, the Republican candidate for governor, Chris Christie, had lead the fight against corruption, quite successfully I might add. So I’m not so sure that NJ, while still a huge win for the R’s, was so much a repudiation of Democrats and their principles as it was a repudiation of a specific incumbent. Again, the GOP should tread carefully to avoid reading too much into the NJ win.

That, of course, brings us to NY-23. The lesson in NY-23 can be summed up in one sentence, uttered last night by Brit Hume: “That’s why you have primaries”. The story here isn’t necessarily that the Democrat won. Given the disarray on the Republican side, I’m surprised it was as close as it was. Instead, it is about how badly the establishment GOP screwed up their selection process. Someone needs to tell them that the days of backroom selections which don’t reflect the desire or mood of the constituency were over a century ago. Had they had their primary and Hoffman won then it is hard to believe that the same level of support from the NRCC with no Scozzafava on the ballot siphoning off 5% of the vote (or campaigning for the Democrat) wouldn’t have yielded a much different outcome. In other words, establishment Republicans blew the election, not the activists. The good news for Republicans is they get to do this again in NY-23 in 2010. Let’s see if they can do a better job this next time.

All in all, a pretty decent night for the party that was in the wilderness not 6 months ago. But caution in interpreting the results should indeed be their watchword. In my opinion, establishment GOP types have not yet quite figured out the conservative insurgency which is now going on among them (and reflected in the Tea Parties, etc). Look for other challenges to Scozzafava-type candidates to continue in the future. They need to understand that much of their base has already rejected the usual approach to identifying candidates for office and that part of the base is willing to buck the establishment picks as they did in NY-23. In fact, NY-23, although a loss, will only encourage them.

The last observation I’ll make has to do with so-called independents. Indies went heavily for the GOP in the two governor’s races last night. That, if anything, should worry Democrats. Independents were the swing vote that decided the last presidential election. In a single year, they’ve found at least some Republicans worth their vote.

Additionally, this time it was the Republican base which was motivated. Democratic turnout was much lower in almost all areas of NJ and VA. And, unlike 2008, the young reverted to form and stayed home. Those are trends for the GOP to build on. However, as noted, they need to avoid over reaching as they do so.



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24 Responses to Analyzing Last Night’s Vote

  • This only goes to prove that the Republicans, like America, will have to do their own “heavy lifting.”
    Expecting somebody else to come in and clean up the mess isn’t going to cut it.

  • Look for other challenges to Scozzafava-type candidates to continue in the future

    The point being that after it blew up in their faces and provided an abject lesson, you’d think that there will be FEWER Scozzafava types next year. She endorsed the DEMOCRAT for god’s sake.

    Learn the lesson GOP.

  • The media now has a much harder job pushing that pig (the Obama admin) down the road to re election.
    Stupid sheeple, don’t they know what is better for them 😉

  •  I really don’t understand this one, so you folks can clue me in.  The conservatives would rather have a democrat in office than a republican?   I hadn’t realized there were  republicans out there who preferred democrats get elected.  As far as Dede S. she most likely endorsed the democrat because her own party, disgusted that she didn’t fit in, kicked her out. 

    Anyway message to dems last night was clear, conservatives won several important elections.

    I disagree  with your first assertion that fiscal conservatism is back, unless their is a new and improved fiscal conservatism.  The previous eight years under fiscal conservatives added five trillion to the National Debt.    I know, I know, the Democrats were the ones to blame. 

    • “I really don’t understand this one, so you folks can clue me in.  The conservatives would rather have a democrat in office than a republican?   I hadn’t realized there were  republicans out there who preferred democrats get elected.  As far as Dede S. she most likely endorsed the democrat because her own party, disgusted that she didn’t fit in, kicked her out”

      No, Conservatives would rather have a Republican with conservative values in office. In the case of Dede S., you can make the case she was actually more liberal than the actual Democrat.  The base made the calculation that it was better to send a message then to elect a RINO to a 1 yr. term.

      As for her endorsement of the Dem- you’re incorrect that her party “kicked her out”. As a matter of fact, her “party” supported her to the tune of $1 million dollars and several big name endorsements. She dropped out because the conservative base decided there was no real difference between her and the Democrat. Maybe it was spite, but most Republicans still wouldn’t endorse the Dem.

      As for myself….I agree with that calculation. There’s no longer any real point in electing “Democrat Lite” candidates anymore. 

      • Docjim,

        I understand the fiscal conservative part, never did understand what a compassionate conservative is.  Now I know, I think.  

        How dare you call Nancy odious and Harry a dimwit.   And insinuate that Boehner and McConnell and the repubs arrogant, infeffective, and corrupt without labeling the dems  pretty arrogant, ineffective, and corrupt.  Of course the dems exceptions would be myself and ott.  Ott really isn’t arrogant at all, just very, very bright and articulate. 

        • Glad I didn’t mention my opinions that Denny Hastert’s greatest skill seemed to be gaining weight and that Trent Lott is as close as I’ve ever seen to a live-action Foghorn Leghorn (without the feath- I say without the feathers, that is).

    • George Bush was hardly a fiscal conservative.  Indeed, he billed himself as a “compassionate conservative”, which is to say, he had NO problems increasing the size of government in order to be compassionate (prescription drug benefit and NCLB leap to mind).  His only fiscal conservative credentials are his tax cuts; at least he was smart enough to know that lower taxes tend to boost the economy which, in turn, tends to boost tax revenues that pay for “compassion”.

      Nor were the Republicans in Congress during his term in office fiscally conservative.  This is part of the reason that the odious Nancy Pelosi and the dimwit Harry Reid are running the Congress instead of Boehner and McConnell (I would also add that the Republican majority was widely – and to a great extent, fairly – perceived as arrogant, ineffective, and corrupt).

      • if you say so McQ, then it must be so.  Just seemed weird to me, but s..t I am a blue dog. 

      • He did attempt social security reform.

        However, given his support for the drug plan and NCLB, ya gotta wonder why the Democrats don’t like him?

        • Easy:

          1.  The (R) behind his name.

          2.  He got elected.  Then, he had the nerve to get REELECTED.

          3.  He’s from perhaps the reddest of the red states and acted (in their view) like a bumpkin.  Why, do you know that the number of White House cocktail parties plummeted while he was in office???  The DC social scene was a veritable desert while he was in office.  A DESERT, I tell you!

    • Actually, in this case at least, the conservatives would prefer the Democrat because the Democrat is actually more conservative than the Republican. Oy vey.

  • While your point about primaries being the better way to choose rather than backroom selection methods is apt, NY Election Law would not have allowed having a primary in this case.  Primary methods of selection are allowed if the vacancy (which must be filled on the date of the next general election) occurs seven days before the last day for circulating nomination petitions for the standard primary date.  After that date, state parties must select by other methods defined by party rules.
    A primary for NY-23 could not have occurred in this case.

  • I saw the upstate New York race in the Saranac Lake congressional district as the only one with real significance. Had the insurgent conservative candidate buried the Democrat in that contest, it would have been a real sign. But apparently the voters in that district haven’t seen enough yet.

    As for New Jersey and Virginia that’s just a little fear in the system. I don’t think it predicts that the country will unload on the Democrats next year, and the Democrats are going to try to make it so that next years is too late, anyway.

    Remember Mark Steyn’s rule, that “universal” health care is the turning point or no return in a society, when the relationship between the individual and the state is permanently altered. That job is half done here with Medicare. Even a modest finishing off will doom what’s left of a private medical industry and we will all dance to the tune of Harry Reid snapping at his latex glove. 

    • Damn typos:

      Should be “…so that next year is too late…,” and “the turning point of no return…”

    • Martin:

      “I saw the upstate New York race in the Saranac Lake congressional district as the only one with real significance.”

      Exactly. It was a microcosm of what’s going to happen in ’12. Obama ekes out a win over Palin, who runs as a 3rd party candidate, while the Republican candidate brings up the rear. Most befuddled Republican voters won’t realize that their party bosses just had them hand Obama 4 more years.

      Call it the Perot Effect on Steroids.

      • It’s a long road to 2012.

        I think that the Soros crowd has a lot in store for America before we get there.

      • I sure hope that we don’t pull a Perot. But what about Congress? Because GOP congress + Obama = gridlock.
        Gridlock is now my preferred choice, btw.

        • I don’t know what my preferred choice is right now.

          But I know that the United States is in very serious danger every minute that Barack Obama has control of the national security apparatus.

          I take the word of his immediate background. He is a clear and present danger. Look it in the eye.

  • Obama and the Democratic victories of 2008 was 100% “REJECT BUSH.”  Unfortunately for the Left (and the right),  the Democrats completely misread this and took it as a mandate for radical Marxism.
    When your identity solely consists of hating and rejecting another, don’t be surprised to not have an identity when the other is gone.

    • This is an excellent point, and why I actually fear a GOP victory in the mid-terms: the party will win NOT because it’s done a damned thing to clean house, but simply because Americans don’t like the other side so much.  I can also see the party leaders – McCain, Graham, Steele, etc – crowing about how it would be a victory of the “moderates” over the “rabid right-wing conservative Palin-types”, and hence the RINO’s will stay in power, which is not only bad for the party, but bad for the country.

      I’m beginning to worry that the GOP will win back the Congress and promptly pass a health care bill that will be only SLIGHTLY less costly and SLIGHTLY less intrusive and SLIGHTLY less destructive than anything SanFran Nan could cook up.  All in the name of “bipartisanship” and trying to show that, gosh-darnit! Republicans can “care” about Americans every bit as much as democrats (i.e. they can waste just as much money on social programs).