Lessons from Election Night, 2009

by Sal on November 4, 2009

in Election 2009,Election 2010,Politics

The media is focusing on NY-23, as well they should, as Conservatives put a lot of emphasis on that race.  Conservatives essentially ousted an establishment-backed liberal Republican (not even a moderate, but a liberal who supported ObamaCare and Cap-and-Trade) in Dede Scozzofava, and backed Conservative party candidate Doug Hoffman, who lost the race by under 3,000 votes.  Yet the Hoffman-Owens-Scozzofava race should be viewed as a victory for Conservatives, and should provide a lesson to both the GOP establishment and the Conservative/Tea Party movement.  NY-23 taught us two things: the GOP cannot win without Conservatives, and Conservatives cannot win without the GOP.  We live in a two-party system, and need to work within that two-party system.  There may come a day when a third party is necessary and viable, but we are not there yet.  At the same time, the GOP establishment cannot simply nominate any liberal they see fit and expect Conservative backing.  NY-23 was important in that it sent a message that we will not tolerate establishment-appointed candidates when there are viable Conservative alternatives.

The Tea Party movement helped to take a third-party candidate who was in single-digits in the polls a month ago, and bring him to within a few percentage points in a volatile political environment.  Conservatives took down a liberal, and sent a message that should revurberate into 2010, and that is a victory (I’ve said from the beginning that Hoffman did not have to win in order for this to be a victory for Conservatives).  On the flip side, we need to use NY-23 to change the party, not separate ourselves from it.  Hoffman did not win for a variety of reasons, but one of them probably was the fact that he wasn’t a Republican.  Scozzofava, who dropped out of the race, had enough votes last night to potentially put Hoffman over the top.  Conservative third party candidacies will always split the vote with other Republicans, and make electoral losers out of us.  Going forward, Conservatives should look to back other Conservatives in the primaries, and support moderate Republicans in genearal when there is no viable conservative candidate.  Electability needs to fit into the calculus of who we support, but not at the expense of principles.

Stepping outside of NY-23, it was a banner day for the Republican Party.  Declared irrelevant and a dying party after 2008, the GOP channeled 1993 by winning both Governorships in deep blue New Jersey and what has been described as increasingly purple Virginia.  In fact, the GOP swept all statewide races in Virginia, including adding 7 seats to its majority in the House of Delegates, confirming reports of the GOP’s demise as premature.  The media is now trying to spin these losses for the Democrats as not meaning all that much in terms of Obama’s popularity, but it’s not working.  Indeed, Obama is an increasingly unpopular President, with only a 46% approval rating (with 53% disapproval) on Election Day.  These races were a shot across the bow, both to the GOP establishment and to the Democrats.  Small government conservatism is on the rise, and was expressed by the voters in two states last night.  Bring on 2010.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris November 4, 2009 at 11:19 am

New Jersey’s results definitely shocked me last night. Originally, I thought Chris was going to pull it out with the slimmest of margins and have to beat back an attempt at Democrat voting shenannigans (there were some, but a lot less than I expected). I am very pleased to see he won by 5 percetage points! This state has had a Democrat run in recent years, but being on the campaign trail and working with the campaign got me noticing that New Jerseyans wanted true change:

1-At a couple of rallies that I attended, you had a very large contingency of “Democrats for Christie” present
2-This election was being followed nationally, on Talk Radio and on Fox News…something that hasn’t been done in years, probably since Whitman
3-People in NJ that I have spoken to doing phone banks, etc are tired…they are tired of the high property taxes, tired of the corruption, tired of the failed leadership.
4-Conservative voters were not ignored. We have a RINO problem in this state and it has led to a fractured Republican Party. He nominated Assemblyman Jay Webber to be the chair of the NJGOP Committee, who is one of our more conservative assemblymen and Chris’s ideology is more conservative than all of his recent GOP predecessors.
5-Chris’s message was on target, he didn’t back down and his campaign people ran probably the strongest statewide campaign not seen since Tom Kean! NJ Republican campaigns in recent years have had a problem of fizzling out or doing something really stupid in the tail end, but I think it was the last week when Chris was at his strongest.

Last night, we won counties that trend blue and have trended purple in recent years. Definitely a great night for the GOP in the Garden State. Republicans are back in power in this state and Chris has the potential to help build a NJGOP that could be inflential and powerful for years to come!!!


Dee November 5, 2009 at 8:52 am

The only clear message I was able to discern from the Tuesday results, was that indeed, all politics is local. While Obama was stumping hard for the NJ governor, all of the big conservative guns from Beck to Palin were pushing hard for Hoffman…and in both cases, outside influence aside, the voters decided who would best represent their interests. From the perspective of a local resident, the VA race was more a case of the Democrats fielding a very weak candidate who ran a very weak campaign…while the VAGOP had finally gone with someone who was of Northern VA but had great appeal down state. Additionally, Mr McDonnell acquitted himself very well by ignoring the negative campaign Mr Deed’s ran and sticking with winning local issues like transportation…which sealed the deal for him in the key northern suburbs that had proven troublesome for Republicans for over a decade. The exit polling I’ve seen leaves me with no other conclusion than that local issues drove the Virginia results. As for NY, I am not sure losing that seat to Pelosi, and trashing a woman who while some in the party may disagree with, but has been a loyal local Republican and who had proven herself to the voters from back in her days as a mayor… can be seen as a victory of any kind. The idea that local politicians, who are elected and are highly thought of by the voters…are going to have to pass muster with some national party leaders and spokesmen seems to run contrary to the principles we claim to hold so dear. It would also be valuable strategy for the future to actually have a viable candidate to run the race. Dee


Ryan November 5, 2009 at 10:18 am

I was completely shocked by Christie’s victory and was about to relegate NJ to banana republic, People’s State, no-hope-need-apply status. The election was definitely a short-term anti-Corzine vote — NJ is not a red state or even purple this morning. However, Christie has an opportunity to at least put more House seats in play next year with tangible results based on conservative principles.

The positive spin on NY-23 is that the real Republican primary took place in the last three weeks of the campaign with Hoffman ultiamtely winning, the loser supporting the Democrat, and that loser’s name displayed twice on the ballot (she apparently got 5% of the vote though she wasn’t even in the race… says a lot about the voters in NY-23). 46% is actually pretty significant given that Hoffman was a snore, he had a huge nationally-focused primary with his RINO opponent still on the ballot. Plus, the Democrat Owen is a very telegenic guy who sat back and watched the GOP tear themselves apart. He should be concerned that the election was so close.

To Dee: the all-politics-is-local argument in NJ explains the Dems for Christie crew, but having been to two decent-sized Tea Parties in NJ I can tell you that anger over the Obama/Bush bailout agenda is what was motivating conservatives and many independents fed up with both parties. They may not have voted “for” Christie, but they defintely voted against Corzine and his Goldman Sachs/ObamaNation connections. Part of the reason turnout amongst conservatives and independents against Corzine was so high was in part because of Obama’s statist agenda being tied to Corzine.


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