I suppose that Democratic Party activists are entitled to crow a little after winning the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia but it certainly looks to me as though they’d defined victory down pretty far.
Last night seems to me to have been a great victory for the status quo. The nominally Republican mayor of New York was returned to office in a nominally overwhelmingly Democratic city. Candidates of the same party as the current office holder won the governorships in New Jersey and Virginia (Democrats actually picked up a few seats in the state legislature). California voters voted to keep things pretty much as they are (a mess).
Well, Democrats didn’t actually lose ground. Vive la Révolution!
UPDATE: Annika mourns.
James Joyner of Outside the Beltway analyzes the Virginia results and finds them a win for outgoing governor Mark Warner, a 2008 Dem presidential possible.
Here’s what Larry Sabato wrote two weeks ago:
We could pen the national party e-mail press releases right now. If both contests go one way, the winning party will crow that these elections are harbingers–ominous predictors of impending doom for the other party. The losing party will of course claim that the 2005 elections are local contests that turned on state issues and personalities. So what’s the truth?
In New Jersey, unhappiness with President Nixon in 1973 certainly contributed to the election of Democrat Brendan Byrne in 1973, and disaffection with President Clinton helped Republican Christine Todd Whitman win the Governorship in 1993. Similarly, in Virginia, Nixon’s problems–which included the resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew a month ahead of the 1973 election and the “Saturday Night Massacre” of the Watergate special prosecutor and others about two weeks before election day–nearly resulted in the defeat of Republican nominee Mills E. Godwin, Jr. by liberal Henry E. Howell, Jr. (Godwin won by 15,000 votes in what was then Virginia’s closest-ever election for Governor.) These four cases are the only ones in recent decades where a President’s low poll ratings can be said to have had a decisive effect at the polls. It is possible that, if both Democrats win this November, we will have added two more case studies; New Jersey is arguable, but in Virginia, Bush’s low ratings have wiped out most of Kilgore’s natural party advantage.
The Crystal Ball seems to be working just fine.
Dafydd ab Hugh of Big Lizard is disappointed and presents his own analysis.
amba of AmbivaBlog has a good headline, Californians re-elect status quo, and believes that the Governator got the results he did because he abandoned the Center.
The Bull Moose rejoices. And he certainly likes Mark Warner’s chances.
There’s a detailed rundown of the California results and a massive link round-up from California Conservative. His summary: Reform has lost. Special interests have prevailed.
Joe Gandelman of The Moderate Voice thinks that the election results show that moderates are deserting the Republicans which, in turn, will spell trouble for Republicans in the future:
Our contention for several months now is that the GOP would have to be in trouble since its electoral victories relied heavily on its conservative base but also on large chunks of independent and moderate voters who, as various polls have shown, are leaving the GOP fold in large numbers.
Larry Kudlow writes that the election results were a stinging blow to the Republican Party.
Virginia resident Jack Rich of LiLPoH comments on the loss of his preferred candidate for governor like a good republican:
The key is that it really matters who your candidate is. It matters much less who is in the White House. Tim Kaine did well because he is a decent man, and, given the fiscal realities, probably will do no worse than Mark Warner. Which is pretty good, actually.
As for Kaine’s love of higher taxes, we troglodytes will do our best to dissuade him from that course of action.
Congratulations, Governor-elect Kaine. You weren’t my choice, but you were the Commonwealth’s. May God grant you the grace and wisdom to follow your Church’s moral teachings as you govern.
Chris Bowers of MyDD is confident:
The nation is rejecting Republicans. The nation is rejecting the radical conservative message. We should not have done this well last night considering the problems within our own party and our own leadership, but it is very, very hard to run as a Republican right now. They had the flimsiest, most narrow governing majority in the history of the country. Despite this, they believed their own talking points and thought they had an overwhelming mandate. Well, the gig is up conservatives. The nation is not to you. If you continue to govern in the same extremist, polarizing, and incompetent manner of the past five years any longer, come 2006, indictments of your entire leadership will be the least of your worries.
James Taranto comments on the New Jersey-Virginia win:
Only in 1993 were the New Jersey and Virginia races a precursor of major change. In 1997 and 2001 the parties that lost the two governorships went on to make gains in the following year’s midterm elections. The only pattern we can see here is that in every election for the past 20 years, the president’s party has lost both the New Jersey and Virginia governorships.
For a wry look at the election results, try Planet Moron. Sample:
A Democratic tide swept across Virginia as the party’s candidates won stunning victories by not losing a governorship they already held and losing a lieutenant governorship they also already held.
Jon Henke of QandO Blog has comprehensive election results, copious links, and sane analysis.
John McIntyre of RealClear Politics doesn’t think the election results are quite a disaster for Republicans and runs down the figures.
Kevin Drum comments on the results of the California referenda:
Arnold lost big time on Tuesday, and he lost because he turned out not to be the Arnold he marketed himself as in 2003. That Arnold — a genuinely moderate Republican — was a very salable commodity even in liberal California, which is not nearly as flakey as its reputation once you tear your attention away from the famously liberal enclaves of Marin County, Berkeley, and the Westside. The rest of California is either flat out conservative or else pragmatically liberal. California’s midwestern roots still run deep.
But the bipartisan Arnold barely even lasted out the campaign, quickly replaced by a guy who made an occasional symbolic nod to moderation — a hydrogen-powered Hummer, a refusal to demonize abortion — while spending the bulk of his time as a standard issue business-pandering Republican. By backing a large slate of initiatives instead of just one or two, Arnold made it inescapably clear that his agenda was harshly partisan. His “reform” agenda was aimed like a laser not at punishing bad government, but merely at punishing Democrats and anyone else who disagreed with Arnold and his $1,000-a-plate corporate pals.