Local politics really is local, most of the time, and it’s perilous to draw conclusions about a local election when you’re watching from a distance. I’ve seen far-away pundits and hacks draw boneheaded conclusions about elections in my locality. Often, in a local or state election, there are things going on that have nothing to do with national issues.
That said, I think Mike Madden is right about incumbents being blamed for the economy. He is also right that Chris Christie ran in New Jersey as a moderate, not a movement conservative. There wasn’t a hint of guns, God or gays in Christie’s television ads; he talked only about taxes and the economy. He ran as a RINO, in other words. I think Corzine made a huge mistake by not emphasizing Christie’s past as a movement conservative wise guy.
Obama approval was actually pretty strong in New Jersey, at 57 percent, but 27 percent of those who approved of Obama nevertheless voted for someone other than Corzine. This one really does appear to be mostly about Corzine being an unappealing candidate, as the Democrats look like they’ll lose just one or two seats in the state legislature in Trenton. Corzine compounded his problems by staying negative until the bitter end of the campaign rather than rounding out his portfolio after having closed the margin with Christie.
But that’s water under the bridge now. Good luck, New Jersey. You’ll need it.
I would love to talk to people who live in New York’s 23rd congressional district about why they think the district elected its first Democrat, probably ever. It wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of CD 23 voters were spooked away from voting for Hoffman by the wingnuts who showed up to campaign for him. Upstate New York may be more conservative than Manhattan, but neither is it Mississippi.
It is not always a good idea to bring in busloads of people from distant places to work local elections. The style of campaigning that works well in the deep South is a big turnoff to the damnyankees in these parts, and vice versa.
To the wingnuts, the real prize in NY 23 was defeating the moderate Republican Scozzafava. They believe they have taught the national GOP a lesson. However, the lesson the national GOP might really have learned is that the far right base cannot win elections. The Teabaggers threw everything they had at New York 23, and they lost to a Democrat.
“Will Republicans do Obama a big favor by nominating a crop of Hoffmans for 2010?” Josh Marshall asks. We’ll see.