Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Election Day!

It's Election Day, but a rather boring one. There are two governor's races, in Virginia and New Jersey. Gay marriage is on the ballot on opposite corners of the country, in Maine and Washington. Given the paucity of actual data, but given the ravenous appetite of the media - and us deeply obsessed political junkies - there will be much analysis, much of it wasted. Is this good or bad for Obama? Kos is firmly of the opinion that it says next to nothing about Obama, and I agree. Like Tip O'Neill said, "All politics is local." These candidates and ballot initiatives are being judged on their own merits. As will Obama in three years.

I haven't commented on these races much, but I have been following them. Chris Christie, the Republican and former US Attorney, won in New Jersey. This is not surprising. The current governor, Jon Corzine, is not terribly popular. I'm not plugged into New Jersey politics enough to really know why. Corzine, however, has the baggage of being a former chairman of Goldman Sachs, at a time when investment bankers are not making friends among the populace. One good thing about Obama's background as a community organizer: he didn't go the investment banking route, which he easily could have done. Christie suffered from some minor scandals, but they were minor - an inappropriate loan to a staffer, some traffic violations. If Corzine had been more popular, those might have done some damage. But my impression is that Christie came across as the lesser of two evils.

Bob McDonell, the Republican, won in Virginia. Again, not surprising - Virginia has been a Republican stronghold for a long time. It's somewhat surprising that Virginia has two Democratic senators. The one noteworthy development in this race happened when McDonell's old graduate thesis surfaced. He took some very conservative positions, and Democrats were hoping that would alienate moderates and women. But he immediately, and apparently effectively, distanced himself from those positions.

The one fascinating oddball race is in New York's 23rd CD, where a Conservative Party candidate is competing against a Democrat. The Republican bowed out after teabaggers and their ilk made it clear they wanted an ideologically hardcore candidate. Someone at The Albany Project is calling it for the Democrat, with 70% of the vote. Wow, that would be quite interesting. That would be a rather spectacular setback for the Republican party - the district has been GOP for 100 years. If the Democrat takes that, it will spark lots of good old-fashioned internecine warfare. Gotta love the prospect of that!

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