Republicans won a couple of governor races and gay marriage got another defeat in Maine, but the Democrat won in the controversial election in upper New York. What pattern can we discern? Other than gay marriage still loses in referenda, there is not much of a trend at all.
So, instead some observations:
1) Gay marriage is still bringing out opponents to vote more than supporters. I am confused by the following:
Opponents repeatedly warned voters that if gays were allowed to marry, it would be taught in the public schools, a tactic that proved effective in California last year.What does this mean? Teaching kids to be gay? Teaching kids that gay marriage is legal? Teaching kids how to marry in a gay style? I have not seen these ads, so if any of my readers can make sense of this, I would appreciate it.
2) Sarah Palin might just be the equivalent of box office poison--she lost her election last year, and her candidate lost last night in New York. No wonder the GOP candidates in NJ and VA ran towards Obama, rather than towards Palin. Where the Republicans go now is a mystery, but I do not rule out further acts of self-destruction.
3) Candidates matter. Hoffman in New York just came off as a boob. The NJ governor was apparently quite disliked even by those who like Obama. There was no national momentum or flow, but, instead, personalities of each candidate mattered a great deal.
4) The key next year for the midterm elections will be, as always, the economy. If the job picture improves by then, then the Democrats should be more ok than not, although the President's party usually suffers in midterm elections (but not always as of late). If health care passes, then the Dems can claim some successes. However, I do think there are some risks to the Republicans of being the party of No. More people want change and reform than those who do not. Being opposed to change works to win party primaries, but obstinacy as a party platform is unlikely to gain pluralities/majorities of votes in most districts and states.
And as always (at least since last year), for expert analysis on US (and other) elections, see www.fivethirtyeight.com.