Despite the relatively small number of electoral contests, media pundits of every shape and size are trying to come up with the elusive answer to what it means. Many of them are just blowing smoke. However, there ought to be some lessons learned by politicians of every party and ideology. Many of those lessons won’t be trumpeted by the mainstream media, who will be so busy writing President Barack Obama’s political obituary they can’t see the forest for the trees.
The President did make some mistakes for sure.
He spent a great deal of political capital on two uninspiring Democratic gubernatorial candidates, Jon Corzine and Creigh Deeds. The Obama magic didn’t work. Young people and people of color simply didn’t turn out in Virginia or New Jersey, and both crashed to defeat. The President could have spent just a little time in New York City trying to elect Comptroller William Thompson as mayor. His little shout out of an endorsement didn’t even fool Thompson, yet he ran closer to Mayor Michael Bloomberg than anyone expected. Thompson also suffered from a lackluster campaign, but more importantly from a stunning lack of support from unions that ordinarily would back any Democratic candidate.
While the Mayor of New York City won a third term he engineered for himself, the NY-23 race in upstate New York turned out to be a Waterloo for the conservative, birther, tea party wing of the GOP. They threw endorsements around like Frisbees, falling all over each other to sing the praises of Doug Hoffman, the true conservative who vanquished Marxist Republican Dede Scozzafava, who dropped out before a vote was even cast.
And what did Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Tim Pawlenty, Michelle Bachman, Fred Thompson, and Rush Limbaugh (did I forget anybody?) get for all their hot air? They elected a Democrat, Bill Owens, the first Democrat to hold the seat in over 100 years. Watch a Democrat win, watch the right wing spin. some of them want people to believe Hoffman’s defeat was actually a victory for them. Witness the writing of Erick Erickson of the conservative RedState.com. “This is a huge win for conservatives…the GOP now must recognize it will either lose without conservatives or will win with conservatives.” Right, okay. Next?
And finally, there was the district that media forgot, California’s 10th. Like NY-23, there was a special election because the sitting congressperson, Ellen Tauscher, took a post in the Obama Administration. Rep. Tauscher, it should be noted, was part of the conservative wing of the Democratic Party in the House. So who won her seat? Democrat John Garamendi, who couldn’t be more different. He supports the public option, but really wants to see single payer healthcare for all Americans. He also wants US troops out of Afghanistan ASAP. He beat his Republican challenger by 10 points.
So why is nobody outside of California talking about him, and what he means to the national agenda? You tell me.