Virginia Governor’s race: This race was closer than expected but in the end Terry McAuliffe’s turnout and fundraising advantage was to much for the Cuccinelli campaign to match. Exit polls showed that McAuliffe did best with 30-49 year old voters, blacks, women and Fairfax County voters. Cuccinelli did excite his vase substantially in the final weeks and succeeded in carrying Independents 46%-37%. Libertarian candidate Sarvis took 6% of the final vote. Cuccinelli’s oveperformance compared to all late breaking polls suggests he found traction in his Obamacare arguments and it does not bode well for Democrats next year. Democratic hopes of inching into the GOP assembly majority were also dashed as Democrats gained a mere one seat in a heavily Democratic district while Republicans won two open seats. Before the election the assembly had a 32-65 split, now the assembly has a 33-67 split.
Virginia Attorney General: With 99.5% if precints reporting it appears the GOP may be able to hold onto one state executive office. Republican candidate Mark Obenshain has 50.2% of the vote compared to 49.52% for Democrat Mark Herring. It is unclear whether the .5% of precincts are outstanding ballots from all over the state, provisional ballots or one partisan leaning region of the state. Republicans have done well in the past in this position and if Obenshain holds on it may be because he split just enough ballots and was helped by Cuccinelli’s late surge. It is very likely that a recount is in the cards for this race.
New Jersey Governor’s race: Not surprisingly Chris Christie stampeded to victory over liberal state senator Barbara Buono. Christie’s margin of victory, in excess of 60% is a huge boon to his Presidential aspirations in 2016 Christie performed strongest in the traditionally Republican Northwest of the state but even manged to garner over 30% of the vote in Essex and 40% in Hudson counties. Christie won every other county in the state and if exit polls are to be believed won 21% of the black vote and 51% of the Hispanic vote. Christie’s down-ballot coattails were limited as Republicans made no gains in the state senate and won a mere two new assembly seats.
CO Amendment 66: Turns out my expectation was short. With over 2/3rds of votes counted as I write this 65% of voters soundly rejected the tax increase. Early ballots mirrored the ultimate results and the pro-increase crowd signaled they were not optimistic heading into the night. CO’s rejection of the income tax hike shows the limits of just how blue a red state can become and shows combined with two successful recalls of Democratic state senators that liberal control of the state is far from assured. Still, many left of center voters voted no on the Amendment because of its strange wording and lack clarity. Regardless, conservatives have to be cheering this result tonight.
NYC mayor: Bill De Blasio cruised to reelection in what was expected to be a blowout. The win is seen as a repudiation as Michael Bloomberg’s Stop and Frisk police tactics and financial strategies. De Blasio has made a number of progressive policies likely to be stymied in the GOP controlled state senate. His large margin of victory suggests the city has taken a sharp turn to the left.
WA State Senate District 26: I added this from the last column per Sean Trende pointing out its importance. To put it simply this state senate seat was held by a former Democratic state senator who took over Norm Dicks Congressional District. The district is considered swing territory and interim state senator Nathan Schilicher was running against GOP challenger Jan Angel. Angel ran almost 10 points ahead of Nathan in the blanket primary and outside spending has poured into the race in the last month. The results, Angel is leading by 3% campaigning on education and likely buoyed by the national debate over Obamacare. Democrats had hoped they could hold the seat and its likely loss suggests they will struggle to break the GOP-conservative Democratic coalition in control of the state senate. Due to WA state’s mail in ballot system there is still a chance this race could turn over the next few weeks but that appears unlikely. Prior to this race the Senate was controlled by 23 Republicans and 2 Democrats. Now it will be controlled by 24 Republicans and 2 Democrats and leave in the cold the minority caucus of 23 Democratic Senators.
WA State Initiative 522: As of this writing Initiative 522, WA state’s attempt by voters to label GMO’s is failing in all but four counties and is only garnering 45% of the vote. Last I checked there are still over 300,000 votes to be tallied and over a third come from King County which is handily supporting the measure. Still, it is unlikely that the 9% lead the No votes have established can be overturned. The No victory would be a boon to GMO food producers, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and many science advocates who argue most GMO’s are perfectly safe and healthy. This race could turn over time but it is extremely unlikely to do so.
Analysis: From the results last night we can see it was an action packed night. Voters in CO pushed back against a massive tax hike, the Virginia Governor’s race went left while the AG race is to close to call and Christie cruised to reelection. In local elections, particularly WA state senate district 26 the GOP carried a true swing district while the NYC mayoral race went to progressive firebrand Bill De Blasio. Lastly, WA state voters rejected what would have been a costly Initiative to require the labelling of GMOs.
One would expect that all this signals good news for the GOP. Voters in WA state likely gave the GOP a new state senate seat, reelected Christie in NJ and apparently factored Obamacare into their votes in Virginia. But a President now hovering at 40% should ensure the GOP wins both major Gubernatorial elections. The Virginia Governor’s race does show candidates do matter. Obenshain has a slim margin because he is a strong candidate and many GOP assembly candidates survived last night because of strong retail politic skills.
Trying to read into the tea leaves from last night suggests it was a wash. There are more worry signs for Democrats than the GOP. Heck, two GOP held county executive seats in Winchester and Nassau counties stayed with the party and by double-digit margins. Whether Obamacare and what local issues played into that race is unclear but it is becoming very clear that Obamacare narrowed the Virginia gubernatorial race. Enough the race was not called until late last night.
Lastly, voter rejections of major tax increases in CO suggests that there is a limit to how left a newly purple state will show. Combined with two successful recalls of Democratic state senators the CO GOP might be feeling a little hopeful heading into 2014. As for the GMO ban in WA state failing, I would dare say it has to do with opponents of the ban outspending supporters 3-1 and many voters not wanting to pay more for food. Now if only they would translate this to federal elections and which party wants to regulate us to death.