2009 Election Results: Not Really Signifying Much

I saw tonight — I’m still awake doing negotiations homework, good times — that the G.O.P. won in two governor’s races but lost the 23rd Congressional District race this Tuesday. My response: wait until 2010 to make any considered response.

While I think the 23rd Congressional race is interesting because of the internal power dynamics reflected in the G.O.P. big guns’ involvement, ultimately I feel like all three elections turned more on local concerns than on national ones. Gov. Corzine has been unpopular for a long time, and people were ready to see him go since way before he argued that he should win because his opponent is fat and he isn’t. The G.O.P. can be happy about the victory, but not too happy — to win a blue state like NJ, Christie’s still gotta be a Northeastern moderate Republican and not a conservative, so he’s exactly the type of politician that Limbaugh, Palin, Malkin, etc. were trying to drive out of the party when they beat on Scozzafava in the 23rd until she abandoned her candidacy. (She later turned around and endorsed Bill Owens, the Democrat and eventual winner – doh!)

Meanwhile, the conservatives’ guy lost, and while that might have some national significance, it’s not the be-all either: Hoffman only sorta lived in the 23rd anyway, and he jumped in at a late date, both of which would certainly affect things. As for Virginia, I think it’s pretty simple: the state just liked McDonnell better than Deeds.

The big lesson: these three (only three!) elections are going to have a lot less significance for 2010 than whatever the Democrats do over the next year. Nothing benefited the Democrats in 2006 like standing by while the G.O.P. screwed up, and that’s true for any minority opposition party anywhere, ever — the party in power has a lot more to do with your fortunes than you do, so you just gotta stay in contrast and wait and see.

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