Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Off-Year Elections

It's hard to know what last night's election results portend for the Democratic or Republican party. On the one hand, we see Virginia going, very heavily, Republican, on the other, the Democrats won a seat in NY that had been Republican since the Bronze Age. I won't try to interpret these results in terms of what voters think of the Obama administration, possible to spin it either way, I suppose, but I think it is notable that both losers, in VA and in NY-23, seemed to have made a point of distancing themselves from their party. Deeds is a very right wing Democrat and purposefully distanced himself from Obama, and Scozzafava is fairly left wing, relative to Republicans, and ultimately endorsed the Democratic candidate.

So, what are we to make of these things? I suppose the simple lesson is that one ignores one's base at one's peril. Triangulation only goes so far; cynical attempts to grab the swing voters can backfire. Truth be told, I was, in an odd way, pleased to see the third party candidate come as close as he did in NY-23. Not, of course, because he was such a right winger, but because it showed that politics haven't become a matter of simply "supporting one's team", that principles and ideas still matter to some voters.

Tangentially, I think it is notable that the WaPo endorsed Creigh Deeds shortly before the election. At that time polls showed Deeds behind but not 18 points behind. It makes one wonder what a newspaper endorsement is worth these days. This certainly didn't give much evidence that it helps.

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