In an off year election where few people went to the polls Republicans won the Governorships of Virginia and New Jersey. However, in the contested New York 23rd Congressional District which featured the republican candidate endorsing the Democrat instead of a third party Conservative candidate, the Democrat won. The cable networks highlighted the congressional race as a division between moderate and right wing republicans for control over the republican party but in the end all politics are local and the Conservative candidate supported by republicans such as Sara Palin, talking heads such as Glen Beck was not knowledgeable in the local issues that were critical to the constituents he would be representing.
Republican wins in Virginia and New Jersey are being spun as some sort of referendum on President Obama although exit polls are showing there was no Obama effect. The biggest decider in these elections was turnout. Republicans went to the polls and Democrats stayed home. The old adage is true here, Republicans can only win elections, when Democrats stay home. If the majority of the electorate actually votes Democrats win. The conservatives got their base out and they voted. The Democrats and the top of the ticket in their respective state did a horrible job in motivating their base. In New York City billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg barely escaped with a victory despite spending millions on the campaign. It seems the other party on the ballot was Wall Street.
The lessons President Obama should take from this off year election is that in 2010 in order for the Democrats to maintain control of the House and Senate or even pick up seats, he’s going to have to motivate his base, get people out making calls, knocking on doors, just like in 2008. Moreover he’s going to have to give a people a reason to do that. Pass health care preferably with a Public Option which is supported by a majority of Americans. (Including Connecticut, which already has a public option for its citizens including its Senator Joe Lieberman, although he strangely, does not currently support health care reform). President Obama has to be tougher with Wall Street. He has to consider breaking up large banks as the UK are doing and arrest some of those who defrauded the market through exotic derivatives. Close Guantanamo and send the prisoners to the Hague to be held and tried. Re institute the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, separating investment and commercial banking. Put a five year moratorium on foreclosures. Issue some executive orders. Repeal the Bush tax cuts of 2001, which gave tax cuts to the top 1% of Americans, resulting in the current deficit.
It’s unbelievable that anyone voted for a Republican party that created the current economic crisis, through their blind faith in deregulation, giving money to the rich, and fighting a war of choice in Iraq that will cost over a trillion dollars