About Last Night: Election 2009

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We're on our second cup of coffee and still analyzing the marquee races on Tuesday.


We're on our second cup of coffee and still analyzing the marquee races on Tuesday. Here are the points that jumped out at us last night and this morning.

Christie wins big…bigger than anticipated. The size of Republican Chris Christie's win in the New Jersey Governor's race – 4 points over incumbent Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine – was surprising in this heavily Democratic state. The conventional wisdom was that we'd be up late waiting on the results. Instead, the race was called just after 10:30. This is the race that has to sting the White House most. President Obama invested more of his political capital here than the other big races. And analysts, eager to read national implications into the race, will undoubtedly focus on the Obama army, which won the Garden State by 15 points last year but stayed home this time around.

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In upstate New York, conservative grassroots turnout more bluster than voters. The White House can take solace in Democrat Bill Owens’ win in the special election for New York's 23rd District. The conservative grassroots movement to oust Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava in favor of Doug Hoffman, was one of the most anticipated going into Election Day. This race highlighted the divisiveness of the Republican Party and didn't really provide any closure for the GOP. The conservative wing of the party bullied the more moderate wing and, ultimately, failed to win an election. 

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Bloomberg not so impressive. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg used his bottomless bank account and cadre of veteran (and expensive) political consultants to manage just a five point win over Democrat Bill Thompson. Bloomberg spent $90 million on the race, Thompson spent about $6. I don't care how you try to spin it, those numbers say it all. All those who were questioning Bloomberg's presumably excessive campaign spending clearly didn't see the polling numbers the Bloomberg camp saw. Virginia, boring as ever. After all the focus on this governor's race that started in the contentious Democratic primary, the race was called almost immediately after the polls closed. Republican Bob McDonnell's 18 point win was mighty impressive, though Democrat Creigh Deeds never seemed to have a shot. Deeds did, however, double down with the Obama-card in the final days of the race. From the GOP perspective, this race provides a foil to the upstate New York special election. In Virginia, Republicans settled early on a moderate candidate in a swing state and won – practically the exact opposite of what they did in New York.

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The big picture? We're wary of drawing too many broad conclusions about what these races mean in the general electoral landscape looking ahead to 2010. Certainly, the unrest among conservative Republicans will continue and will likely play out in primaries – such as the Florida GOP Senate primary between Charlie Crist and the more conservative Marco Rubio. It is worth noting, though, that there is a significant anti-incumbent vibe out there; every incumbent party lost last night, except for Bloomberg and his bank account. Republicans, though, certainly have plenty to celebrate in New Jersey. As Nick Ayers, the executive director of the Republican Governors Association, told Politics last month, wins in New Jersey and Virginia will boost Republicans in 2010. "Candidate recruitment for congressional races would be helped; so would party momentum and fundraising," he said.

Then again it could just be the economy, stupid.Jeremy P. Jacobs is the staff writer at Politics. He can be reached at jjacobs@politicsmagazine.com<!--EndFragment-->

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