Tuesday Takeaways

AP_ken_cuccinelli_chris_christie_jef_131105_16x9_992On Tuesday, voters in New Jersey, Virginia, and New York City went to the polls. Although it might not seem like it at first glance, the night was a huge positive for Republicans, while showcasing possibly fatal flaws for Democrats.

New Jersey: The elections in New Jersey saw Republican Governor Chris Christie defeat Democrat Barbara Buono to win a second term. What is so striking is not that Christie won (every single poll had him with a comfortable lead), but how he did it.  Christie’s landslide victory was the result of winning not only hardcore Republicans, but peeling off large portions of the Democratic base.  He won 21 percent of blacks (Romney won 6), 51 percent of Hispanics (Romney – 27 percent), and 57 percent of women. Yup, you read that right. Christie won 57 percent of New Jersey women …. while running against a woman. If he can win women by that much in a liberal state, with a female opponent, it’s scary to think what he could do in a general election against a certain Democratic female candidate in waiting.

Virginia: Sure, Ken Cuccinelli lost, and Republicans are poised to lose one of the most powerful governorships in the country. But the election was also a nailbiter, with Terry Mcauliffe only winning by less than 3 percentage points. Here’s a short list of everything that Cuccinelli had going against him:

  • Current Republican Governor Bob McDonnell was sidelined with an ethics scandal
  • McAuliffe, a prolific former head of the DNC, massively outraised him. Cuccinelli was outspent 4 to 1 in the final weeks of the campaign.
  • Cuccinelli was forced to distance himself from firebrand lieutenant governor candidate E.W. Jackson, whose comments on gays and abortion were widely panned
  • Cuccinelli’s own social views were closely scrutinized, and the McAuliffe campaign ran a barrage of ads attacking his radical views on abortion
  • Many Republican fundraisers saw the race as lost so refused to send money to the state
  • The government shutdown, engineered by House Republicans, furloughed thousands of Northern Virginia voters

With all this taken into account, it’s hard to fathom that any Republican could come even close in the increasingly liberal purple state of Virginia. The 2014 midterm map is tough for Democrats, and they will have to win races without the bevy of advantages that the one in Virginia offered. In other words, 2014 could look a lot more like New Jersey than Virginia.

Published by Alex Petros

Alex Petros is a staff writer for The Politic from Lexington, Kentucky. Contact him at alexander.petros@yale.edu.

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