As expected, Republican Bob McDonnell has easily been elected Governor of Virginia, defeating Democrat Creigh Deeds. The win, part of a Republican sweep of VA’s three highest offices (Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General), continues Virginia’s trend of voting for a governor from the opposite party of the sitting President that goes back to 1977.
The networks called the race for McDonnell shortly before 8 p.m. ET – an hour after the polls closed.
In my opinion, Deeds ran a lame, horrible campaign that didn’t galvanize the state’s more pro-Democratic areas – namely the Washington DC suburbs in Northern Virginia and the urban areas in the Norfolk area – the way Obama did last year and Jim Webb did against George Allen in the 2006 U.S. Senate race. It wasn’t clear for much of the campaign what Deeds stood for, but he certainly didn’t energize the people who voted for Obama last year. And using McDonnell’s thesis from 20 years ago to scare voters on social issues only goes so far given the struggling economy.
Happy Election Day! May the elections going on across the country today not be marred by voting machine malfunctions, hanging chads, vote fraud or any other shenanigans. May whoever wins today win fair and square.
The five “big” elections in this off year are for the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia, the special House election in NY District 23, the Mayor of New York City and Prop 1, to overturn the Maine government’s approval of gay marriage. With Michael Bloomberg expected to be re-elected easily in NYC and Bob McDonnell leading all the polls by double digits for the last week-plus, the eyes of the nation will be on The Garden State and Northwest New York state.
Anything could happen in those two races. Both will come down to who gets their base to the polls in larger numbers. Since turnout in off-year elections is usually low, the usual theory about needing to play for the independents and undecideds doesn’t necessarily apply. As a Republican (and a fairly conservative one at that) in deep blue New Jersey, turnout will be extremely important for Chris Christie if he hopes to oust incumbent Jon Corzine.
Whatever happens tonight, pundits are going to spin it as a referendum on President Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. And they’ll be wrong. These are all local elections on local issues. If Christie somehow wins tonight, it will be because enough NJ voters were disenchanted with the state of affairs under Corzine and considered Christie to be better, not because they want to send a message to Obama. The result in the NY-23 special election could be a statement of whether or not moderates are welcome in the Republican Party, but it also won’t be a referendum on Obama.
Polls close at 7 p.m. ET in Virginia, 8 p.m. in NJ and ME and 9 p.m. in New York. And there are municipal elections across the country as well. So make sure you vote.