Well, it seems like the death of the GOP, as predicted by Obama supporters and Dem operatives, may be a bit premature. In a clear repudiation of the politics of bigger government, massive spending, and the Obama Cult of Personality, voters in Virginia and New Jersey voted to try their luck with the GOP and elected two Republican governors, despite heavy campaigning and a huge investment of personal political capital by The One.
In a nice touch, supporters of Republican Chris Christie, who won in NJ, reportedly chanted "Yes We Can" as he took the stage in his victory speech.
Fox News said:
Republican Party leaders were quick to claim the victories as a sign that Americans are rebelling against Democratic policies in Washington. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said the victories marked a "clear rejection" of "tax and spend policies" in Washington.
And it's not just Fox. From Politico:
The off-year elections were, in two big races, an unmistakable rebuke of Democrats, reshuffling Obama’s political circumstances in ways likely to have severe near-term consequences for his policy agenda and larger governing strategy.
On the other hand, the Democrats won in the often-strange race for New York's 23rd Congressional District, in which Conservative challenger Doug Hoffman and GOP-candidate Dede Scozzafava split the vote and allowed Democrat Bill Owens to sneak into office in a largely right-leaning district, after many big-name Republicans repudiated the chosen GOP candidate and backed Hoffman. Scozzafava's decision to drop out of the race and endorse Hoffman only added to the spectacle.
While it's probably true that the NJ and Virgina races turned mostly on local issues, that's a bright spot for us here locally, as we anticipate that in the U.S. Senate race (and perhaps some other down-ballot races), the White House and Obama are expected to strenuously defend Obama's old Senate seat from presumed GOP nominee Mark Kirk. Obama's inability to transform his star power to local Dem candidates bodes well for negating the boost that Obama's personal stamp might bring to the Dem Senate nominee, which we current presume will be the lackluster and ehtics-challenged Alexi Giannoulias.
Fox once again has it right:
So the setbacks demonstrate the difficulty of presidential leadership following a campaign built on promises of unity followed by divisive policies and a relentless campaign approach toward big legislative issues like the stimulus and health care bills.
"What this is tonight, this victory here tonight, is a warning shot, and it says to the moderate Democrats in the House that they ought to think twice about continuing to pursue the policies of this White House and (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi," said Virginia Republican Rep. Eric Cantor.
Dems, of course, would like to believe that NY-23 was the only race that was a referendum on the Obama agenda, but it seems to me that the opposite is true. NY-23 was a lot more about GOP self-destruction than the triumph of Obamapolitiks.
In fact, NY-23, is a prime example of what happens when the GOP turns to fratricide and cannot settle on a consensus candidate to do battle with the Dems.
It's a lesson to be learned here in Illinois where some conservatives continue to insist that the only way to victory is to throw all non-believers off the reservation and abandon support of Congressman Mark Kirk, who is the only GOP contender that has any hope to take on the Dem war machine and win the U.S. Senate seat in November 2010.
UPDATED 12:30 p.m.: Here's a Daily Herald article that gives the perspective of new IL GOP leader Pat Brady on the local implications of the result of NY-23 here for Mark Kirk's senate bid. Brady appears to dismiss the chances of conservative candidates such as Pat Hughes to mount any kind of serious threat to Kirk. I agree, of course, but I found it telling that the head of the state party agrees too.