What does it mean? Not much
If there are signs today that the problem of global warming has increased, the main culprit was most likely all the hot air spewed into the atmosphere by the so-called experts (there were at least eight of them on CNN at the same time) trying to analyze what happened in Tuesday’s off-year election. And the answer, after all the pontificating is, really, not very much. Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele declared that the victories by GOP candidates in gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey proved the Republicans are "a transcendent party" with a future so bright they’re gotta wear shades. Leading Democrats say those same results were in no way a reflection of overall dissatisfaction with their party or its leader, President Barack Obama. The truth, as the old saying goes, is somewhere in the middle. There was really little doubt that Virginia would choose the Republican gubernatorial candidate, and there were few people in New Jersey less popular than incumbent Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine. But at the same time, it would be foolish to say that the results bear no connection to dissatisfaction with Obama, even if that dissatisfaction comes mainly in the form of angry Republicans who are now energized to get revenge. For the Democrats, it's a valuable wake-up call before next year's really important midterm elections. If they want to maintain their advantages in the House and Senate, they're going to have to work very hard to motivate voters – especially young people and minorities – who turned out in droves to elect Obama but stayed home in droves on Tuesday. You can try to pick apart Tuesday's races to conjure up trends, but none really exist. In very large part, next year's elections will hinge on one factor: the state of the economy. If people have more money in their pockets, if jobs are being created and if people feel optimistic about their futures, that bodes well for the Democrats. If the economic recovery stalls out, Republicans could make major strides toward proving that reports of their demise were greatly exaggerated.
A few other thoughts:
– The special congressional election in upstate New York, which filled a vacancy in a seat held by Republicans since sometime close to the Bronze Age, didn't go quite like far-right conservatives such as Sarah Palin had in mind. The right-wingers forced the Republican candidate from the race because she wasn't "right" enough, leaving an ultra-conservative to take on the Democratic nominee. The Democrat won, but again, don't read too much into that. There's an election for a full term representing that district next year, and there's a good chance the Republicans will reclaim it.
– It personally saddens me that voters in Maine chose to overturn that state's law allowing gay marriage, but a struggle such as this, for the hearts and minds of a people, isn't won in short order. Thirty years ago, a proposal to allow gay marriage probably would have been defeated by a 90 percent to 10 percent margin. Today, the votes are much closer, and eventually gay marriage will be the law of the land. The good news, from my vantage point, is that voters in Washington state appear poised (votes are still being counted) to expand the state's domestic-partnership law to give gay couples all the rights of heterosexuals. It would mark the first time a gay-rights measure had won statewide approval in this country. It's far from a major victory, but it's a small step.
– While switching over to watch the 10 p.m. local news last night, I happened to catch the last few minutes of the new "Melrose Place" on the CW network. If you are a fan of terrible, over-the-top acting, I urge you to tune in sometime. It was cringe-worthy.
– Is it just me, or is political commentator James Carville, above left, looking more and more like Skeletor from Masters of the Universe?