Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Elections, Bellweathers, and the Idiot Punditry

Alright here's my opinion on the elections yesterday and what it proves more than anything else:

Pundits don't know what they are talking about and the Beltway politicians have their heads up their collective posteriors.

Let's first look at all the media circus and political spin that was leading up to the elections that took place yesterday. It was loudly touted, especially by the GOP but by the media in general, as a "referendum on Barack Obama." It was spun as if these local contests would somehow give us an idea of what the people in the United States as a whole feel about Obama, the Democratic Party, and the direction our government is taking us in.


Funny that no one ever told the voters that.

In fact, in spite of the pronouncements of the punditocracy, the fears of the Democratic Party, and the pre-victory gloating by the GOP, these elections had very little in fact to do with Obama as the previous poll indicated.

In Virginia Democrat Craig Deeds, by all accounts on the ground, ran a terrible political campaign. He made multiple bone-headed mistakes including distancing himself from Obama in a state Obama carried in 2008, attacking his opponent's social conservatism while failing to offer an effective message regarding jobs and taxes the way his opponent did. Virginia also has a long tradition of electing a governor who is not of the same party as the current President; case in point being the consecutive elections of Mark Warner and Tim Kaine both Democrats during the Bush administration with Warner being elected in the shadow of 9/11. It doesn't matter how popular the president and standardbearer of your party is if the candidate you have running to fix state and local issues doesn't effectively speak to said issues and can't seem to run a campaign period. People when they go into the polls aren't just voting based on the issues, they are also voting for a person to handle the position they are being elected to. Running a campaign on your opponent's position on the social issues when the main concerns of most voters are jobs, jobs, and jobs is a good way to guarantee your political defeat.

In New Jersey the incumbent Democrat was running with a poor approval rating, an economy that tanked hard thanks to the crash, and the bonus points of being a former Goldman-Sachs CEO when anti-Wall Street sentiment among the average voter is running high. The state Democratic Party was also battered by multiple scandals under Menendez and McGreevey tarnishing their reputation. It's a miracle he even had a shot with all of what was running against him and no surprise he lost.

In NY-23 we had a real circus with the Republican who was running as the incumbent temporary appointment get ousted by conservative members of her own party then watch as last week she dropped out and endorsed the Democrat running in the election. Owens, the Democrat, would end up beating Doug Hoffman, the insurgent Conservative Party candidate who received backing early on from Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck who all touted this election as the sign that they would come out on top and the conservative revolution was on its way. Shame that no one told the voters in the NY-23, a district that has been Republican for 138 continuously, about the revolution. What likely did Hoffman in was that the bulk of his money and support, not to mention his own residence, were from outside the district making it very easy to portray him as an opportunistic carpet-bagger.


Now that we have gone over what really happened that the pundits do not want to talk about:

They were dead wrong on all accounts. Virginia and New Jersey, elections that were part of the alleged barometer on Obama's first year in office, based on the exit polls were decided based mostly on local issues and the voters still approve of Obama himself even if not for the Democrats running in their states. Note that in New Jersey said Dem was an incumbent facing a political perfect storm that he couldn't beat while in Virginia Deeds was running to fill the seat held previously by Democrat Tim Kaine effectively making him the incumbent in political terms1. In NY-23 it was the insurgent candidate supported by out of district and out of state interests and money who lost to the local candidate.

The real meaning of this election is two-fold: first that the political analysts, pundits, and spinmeisters don't know what they are talking about and second that the people are fed up with business-as-usual inside the Beltway thinking and politics. Both the pundits and the big party bosses projected their opinions, wishes, and conclusions onto races in spite of that the data from the elections themselves doesn't substantiate the hot wind they've been blowing. The elections yesterday, more than anything else, prove that the punditocracy and the partyocracy in Washington DC don't know what is really going on outside of the Beltway.

Ideologues, incumbent candidates, and parties beware of 2010, if your voters are not happy with the job you're doing or think that you're taking them for a ride your political future will be over. The political dynamic active right now is not one of left vs. right; it is of the people vs. Washington. And the punditry and political bosses, who can plainly see the writing on the wall, have no idea what it means.


1. In Virginia Governors cannot stand for re-election to two consecutive terms as Governor.

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