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Decision ’09: A Sharp Right Turn

Christie wins NJ, McDonald sweeps VA. Two historic Republican victories in states Obama carried twelve months ago.

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November 2, 2009 - 4:20 pm

Today’s governor’s races in New Jersey and Virginia and a special election in New York will be watched closely for signals from the electorate. Will they take out any dissatisfaction they feel with the president on Democrats? Can Republicans begin the long, slow process of regaining the trust of voters?

Two of the gubernatorial races are cut and dried. Republican Bob McDonald is apparently poised for a big win in Virginia over Democrat Creigh Deeds. However, incumbent New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine is neck-and-neck with Republican challenger Chris Christie. A third-party candidate, Chris Daggett, is muddying the waters and the polls are all over the place.

The race in New York’s 23rd congressional district will be the most widely anticipated result. Confusion rages as the regular Republican, Dede Scozzafava, has dropped out, leaving Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman and Democrat Bill Owens to slug it out. A win by Hoffman in the heavily Republican district, unthinkable a fortnight ago, would be a shocker. It would send a message to national Republicans that conservative activists are tired of supporting unconservative candidates. Will they get that message in Washington, D.C.? That remains to be seen.

We’ll be updating this post as news filters in about the races. Make sure to check back regularly for the latest.

(Note: Newest links on top)

Corzine concedes, jokes: “My mom is pretty happy tonight. She’s a registered Republican.”

Philly Enquirer on how Christie won: “In the end, the Shore turned the tide.”

New York Times: A Year After Dousing, Republican Hopes Rekindled

NBC Calls it for Owens — but the Watertown Daily Times has Hoffman closing in.

VDH: “If the night continues to go ill for the Democrats after so much personal investment from the president, what will be the explanation?

“Or rather what cannot be the explanations? It cannot be a biased media that misrepresented the issues; it cannot be that liberals were overwhelmed and outspent by right-wing big money; it cannot be that third-party liberals drew votes from mainstream Democrats; it cannot be that we are watching red-state returns from a Mississippi or Texas; it cannot be that mysteriously all three candidates were weak and their campaigns uniformly poorly managed; and it cannot be that race was the issue, given there were only so-called white candidates.”

ewerickson: “Just talked to ppl close to Hoffman. They think he’s won. Owens votes in. Their sampling tracks with what we’re seeing.”

Jim Geraghty: “Whoa: With 79% of precincts reporting, Christie leads by 1 percent, or about 1,000 votes in Bergen County, a county Obama carried by 10%.”

Ace of Spades is live with Hoffman at the Saranac Hotel.

Jim Hoft: Hoffman Leads in NY-23

Is this real? This can’t be real: New York Times – “What One Word Best Describes How You Feel a Year After President Obama’s Election? You can submit one response. This page will update with the most popular choices from NYTimes.com readers.”

More Jake Tapper: “WH spox Gibbs says POTUS is not watching election returns”

Jim Geraghty: “This seems pretty darn big: In New Jersey, CNN’s exit poll says Christie won independents 58-33 over Corzine, with indies making up 27 percent of the electorate.”

James Carville spins: “Understand, this is not a national election.”

Newsbusters: CBS’s Schieffer Denies Vote a Referendum on Obama, Compares Conservatives to McGovern. “Shortly before the polls closed, CBS’s chief Washington correspondent, Bob Schieffer, rejected any effort to tie President Barack Obama to two the Democratic gubernatorial candidates for whom Obama campaigned, insisting on Tuesday’s CBS Evening News that the contests were more about local issues and so ‘I don’t think they had much to do with anything but New Jersey and Virginia.’”

FoxNews Exit Poll, From New Jersey: 31% see the economy as the most important issue. Eighteen percent say health care.

GayPatriot: Why Virginia Matters Most: “With Virginia’s tally last fall mirroring the national tally, a sign of Democratic erosion here would clearly indicate that Obama’s margin in 2008 had more to do with the dynamics of that election than with an ideological realignment of American voters.”

Jake Tapper tweets: prelim exit poll data, VA: 18% say they cast their vote in part to express support for Obama, 24% in opposition, 55% not a factor.

Allahpundit at Hot Air has some reports on the ground from New Jersey via Mary Katherine Ham at the Weekly Standard who writes that things are “looking good” in the Garden State for Republican Chris Christie. Higher than normal turnout in GOP areas with depressed turnout in Democratic regions gives Allah cause for “rare” optimism.

Another take on the “GOP civil war” from AZ Congressman John Shadegg. From the blog Briefing Room: “Quite frankly, I think Americans are unhappy with politicians of every stripe, whether they’re Republican, Democrat, or independent,” he added. “I think what you’re seeing in this race is the manifestation of that frustration.”

A final poll roundup from Tom Jensen at PPP who is quite bullish on GOP chances: “From the high levels of party unity it’s clear that Republicans voters see the path back to power will require staying on the same page. And whether it’s because the Democrats have bad candidates or they’re unhappy with President Obama, independents are giving the GOP very high levels of support. It should be the best Republican election night since George W. Bush got reelected.”

Elizabeth Benjamin of the New York Daily News blog the Daily Politics reports that police have been called to two polling places in NY-23. The reason? Nobody knows, apparently. It is thought the cops were called by Owens volunteers. Says one Hoffman volunteer: “So, apparently, the poll workers who are Owens supporters are doing the only thing they can do: Intimidate. And they’re doing that by calling the police. Nobody’s been arrested because nobody’s doing anything wrong.”

Michelle Breidenbach of the Syracuse Post-Standard interviewed Dede Scozzafava, who said, “The amount of hate and lies and the deceitfulness. … I don’t believe that should be the characteristics that define the Republican Party. I think people should be allowed to have discussions and reasonable disagreements. But this was a full frontal assault on me personally and politically, for weeks.”

The gang at MSNBC’s First Read blog weigh in on whether today’s vote is a referendum on Obama’s presidency.

Firedog Lake’s Jon Walker believes that Democrat Bill Owens may lose to Republican Doug Hoffman in NY23 because he is not sufficiently liberal: “If Hoffman wins it will be a big loss for the misguided ideal among some Democrats that the only way to win right-leaning districts is by diligently staking out bland center-right positions.”

Daniel Larison writing in Eunomia: “My guess is that NY-23’s location in the Northeast will give many people on the right the wrong impression that Hoffman’s chance at success proves that movement activist-style conservatism can win or at least compete in the Northeast generally…”

Too bad to check: NJ Dems sending gangbangers on GOTV efforts? (Hot Air)

Dem spin: Obama didn’t even know Virginia was having an election, frankly. (Weekly Standard)

Blue Dog says Dem losses would strengthen centrists’ position (The Hill)

NY-23: Joe Biden and Democrats campaign against Rush, Beck, “right-wing extremists” (American Spectator)

This campaign was a New Jersey nightmare (Star-Ledger)

Polls open under clear skies in NJ (NJ.com)

Obama robocalls for Governor Corzine (PolitickerNJ.com)

Anger, frustration, fuel Election Day (CNN)

Last minute NY 23rd poll: Conservative Doug Hoffman surges, but … (Los Angeles Times)

Talking about the Scozzafava effect (The Hill)

The most interesting question raised by Frank Rich’s reaction to Doug Hoffman’s earthquake: Where are the tea parties of the left? (Richard Fernandez)

Should liberals want Dems to lose NY’s 23? (Real Clear Politics)

History lesson: Outcomes in NY, NJ and VA are unlikely to forecast much about races in 2010 (WSJ)

Michael Tomasky thinks “all this punditry about these races is mostly nonsense.”

“Among the lessons Republicans will try to extract from McDonnell’s race will be how he succeeded, if his numbers hold, with nonwhite voters.” (Jennifer Rubin)

Election Tuesday Eve: Palin hits VA with Ralph Reed (Taylor Marsh)

Allahpundit writes that “it would be deeply depressing to think that a Republican can’t win in a blue state even in a political climate like this with an incumbent as feeble as Corzine.”

Will military voters be disenfranchised? (Hans A. von Spakovsky)

Hoffman: NY-23 is “unique situation” (CNN PolitcalTicker)

Politico has the inside story of how the Democrats turned Dede Scozzafava and got her to endorse the Democratic candidate.

Jim Hoft has the skinny on a rally headlined by Joe Biden in NY-23.

Scozzafava has apparently taped some robo-calls for Owens. How many times can you say “What were they thinking?” about the GOP establishment’s choice of Dede in the first place?

The latest Quinnipiac poll in New Jersey has the Republican Chris Christie up by two points. A Democracy Corps poll shows the incumbent Democrat Corzine up by four points.

In Virginia, GOP hopeful Bob McDonnell is comfortably ahead of Democrat Creigh Deeds in two polls out today.

What NY-23 says about the GOP and its voters (Rasmussen Reports)

Democrats seek warning signs from voters (ABC News)

“The conservative coup in N.Y. exposes how little control GOP officials hold over the political movement.” (Politico)

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