Ed Driscoll

Pookie Shrugged

As the election results were coming in last night for the New Jersey gubernatorial race, I was as surprised as Fausta Wertz that the following scenario didn’t occur:

Most of us who have lived in New Jersey for decades, however, expected the unions to turn out en masse to outmuscle and outnumber other voters in favor of Corzine. After all, the state is the largest employer in New Jersey, and that’s what unions do, sometimes not very subtly. Union leaders have been known to brag about it:

“We call it knock and drag,” said Jim Williams, general president and director of organizing of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, with about 3,500 members in New Jersey. “We knock on the door and drag ‘em out to vote.”

Corzine also greatly outspent (from his own pockets) his challengers; he outspent Christie 3:1 and Daggett by nearly 12:1.

The state Democrats had the full support of the Obama campaign staff, but it didn’t stop there. President Obama visited the state four times and was in New Jersey campaigning at  five events last Sunday, telling voters to get their cousins out to vote for Corzine:

“You’re going to need to get Cousin Pookie off the couch and say ‘Pookie, it’s time to go vote,’” Mr. Obama said. “You’ve all got a Cousin Pookie. You know whom I’m talking about.”

I suppose — but it still seems rather unpresidential to use as silly a word as “Pookie.” Imagine the drubbing the President Bush would have gotten from such an anecdote.

On the other hand, NJ could have been worse, as this possibly apocryphal story emailed into Jay Nordlinger highlights:

“A story from my old stomping grounds of Chicago. Years ago, during the original Mayor Daley’s tenure, I heard of a precinct captain who, after the polls closed, realized that no one had voted for the Republican candidate for mayor. He came to the conclusion that no one would believe it. So, to avoid charges of voter fraud, he went in and pulled the lever for the Republican a dozen or so times.”

As Jay adds, “Don’t know if it’s true, but it sort of rings true.”

Meanwhile, libertarian econo-blogger Megan McArdle writes:

As long as social issues dominate the Republican Party, they will continue losing their north–I had a lot of relatives who at least considered voting for Obama.  Ironically, I wonder if the tea parties won’t help bring the two wings of the Republican party together:  guns and lower government spending are the two things all members can agree on.  But if the south wants to keep its northern Republicans–and the congressional seats that come with them–it’s going to have to back off trying to make the northern party look like a miniature version of itself.

Though as Michael Barone counters:

From the 1996 election up through and including 2008., affluent counties in the East, Midwest and West have trended Democratic, largely through distaste for the religious and cultural conservatives whom voters there have seen (not without reason) as dominant in the Republican party. Now, with the specter of higher tax rates and a vastly expanded public sector, they may be—possibly—headed in the other direction. An interesting trend to watch.

Christie certainly called himself a conservative in a historically very blue state, and won dramatically in the process.