The Sky Doesn't Fall With Deeds

This Tuesday voters in Virginia and New Jersey go to the polls to vote for Governor. But the way that the media is portraying it, you'd think there's a special election in these two states on President Obama's agenda. News stories have been out for months about what the results of Tuesday's elections will have on the Obama agenda. The media seem to suggest that Tuesday's elections will be a precursor to the 2010 mid-term elections.  

In Friday's Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove wrote that if Virginians do what it looks like they might do and vote for Republican governors in Virginia, a state that Obama won in 2008, and "[if] Republicans also win the races for lieutenant governor and attorney general by five points or more, it will strengthen the case of those predicting a GOP "wave" in 2010."

While New Jersey's Governor's office looks like it will stay in the hands of Jon Corzine, polls suggest that the Virginia voters will elect a Republican to the Governor's mansion for the first time since 2001. Virginia, which was solidly Republican state, has elected two Democratic governors, voted Republicans out of control of the statehouse and has two Democratic Senators in Jim Webb and former-governor Mark Warner. So doesn't a Republican Bob McDonnell win Democrat Creigh Deeds spell disaster for the Democrats momentum in Virginia and the national Democrats chances in 2010?

The answer is no.

Even though the election of 2000 was drawn out with litigation and ended in a Supreme Court decision, the day he was sworn into office, President Bush had an approval rating of above 60 percent. Everywhere he went people talked about "Cowboy Diplomacy" and the president could get whatever he wanted, including tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. He was unstoppable. Then came 9/11. In the days that followed, Bush comforted the nation, promised revenge and won the support of allies and foes alike. The president was polling in the 90 percent range in the days that followed the terrorist attacks. Again the president got what he what he wanted from Congress: The Patriot Act, more power for the Executive Branch, support for war. But just seven weeks later, while stumping in Virginia and New Jersey, even with poll numbers in the 80, even with huge crowds waiting to hear him speak, even with a celebrity agenda, even with having started the strike against the Taliban and al-Qadea, Democratic businessman Mark Warner defeated Republican Mark Earley by about four points in the Governor's election.

Did Mark Warner's election spell defeat for the Bush agenda? Did the war in Afghanistan stop? Were war plans for the invasion of Iraq put on hold? Were tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans repealed? Was the Patriot Act pulled back to alleviate concerns from privacy rights advocates?

Of course it wasn't.

The Bush agenda kept chugging along. That's even after the first sign the Administration was too close with big business with the fall of Arthur Anderson, Enron and more. While Bush's approval ratings weren't where they were in the days following 9/11, Republican candidates were clamoring for the president's attention, Democratic candidates said they supported Bush's call for "regime change" in Iraq, Bush was in demand and was hot. In the end voters came out to vote for Republicans and not Democrats who were Republicans-lite. The 50-50 split in the Senate was broken and the GOP made gains in the house by huge Republican gains in the south and in the mid-west.

These gains were made because the Republicans had a president who was bolstered by international events, high approval ratings and one war with another looming. The country was comfortably in Republican control.

And while we know what happened after that, a culture of corruption, poor management of both wars, the ouster of the GOP majority and an Administration that is looked upon as a complete failure, it's worth remembering that President Bush was once this country's most popular president of all time. And even with that kind of approval his popularity could not deliver Virginia to a Republican candidate.

Tags: Creigh Deeds, obama, Politics, Virginia (all tags)



I agree with you

but Congressional Republicans were always willing to march lockstep with Bush, no matter what his approval rating. We have more disloyal Democrats in the House and Senate, and some of them will probably feed the media narrative that VA-Gov means "slow down with the Obama agenda."

by desmoinesdem 2009-11-01 09:03AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with you

Interesting analysis.  I agree with Jason that the situations are similar, but you are right that Republican Congresspersons are much more lock-step than Democratic ones.

by Will Johnston 2009-11-02 11:09AM | 0 recs
Re: The Sky Doesn't Fall With Deeds

I think the public option will fade after Tuesday
night.  I've always been for a strong public option, but it's just sucking all the oxygen out.

Most important to wrap up the health care bill soon.

by esconded 2009-11-01 09:08AM | 0 recs
Re: The Sky Doesn't Fall With Deeds

Why do you think the public option will fade? We are going to hold NJ in a race that looked very bad for us at one point AND while we are losing in Virginia it is a.) a purple state and b.) Criegh Deeds is perhaps the worst candidate who runs the worst campaigns in the history of serious candidates for Governor.

Furthermore, it looks like both the House and The Senate bills will have some version of a Public Option. We will get it in one form or another.

by JDF 2009-11-01 11:47AM | 0 recs
Re: The Sky Doesn't Fall With Deeds

Because it is not about facts. I don't necessarily agree with the poster, but I understand their thesis. It does not matter what the facts are. It is about what reinforces the status quo of centrism, and the DC media then using data that confirms their world view while ignoring data that disproves it. That's why disrupting this status quo is so important, and why ultimately nothing has changed in DC even while it has changed in America. I don't know the shake  out if things go poorly tomorrow, but I am certain how the DC bubble will spin it. Practical example- look at how they kept saying the PO is receiving mixed or lukewarm support even while polls were saying it was 60 percent support. That had nothing to do with reality. It had to do with media creating a narrative, and conservatives and centrist Democrats using that narrative over the will of the American public.

by bruh3 2009-11-02 05:23AM | 0 recs
I certainly agree

Democrats had to have healthcare reform wrapped up by this point to have any chance at passage.  Now, healthcare reform is probably going to die just like it did after Democrats lost in 1993.  

by Kent 2009-11-01 03:59PM | 0 recs
A simpler point

Virginia election rules are designed to minimize turnout in state and local elections.  That's why the governor and legislature are all elected in off years.  It originally perpetuated the Democratic Byrd machine, now it helps the Republicans who essentially represent the same interests.

The classic book on this topic is V.O. Key's Southern Politics.  My copy has wandered off, but I recall reading there that Virginia had the lowest turnout of any southern state.

by BRoss 2009-11-01 09:53AM | 0 recs
Re: A simpler point

How can I not rec'd a comment that cites V.O. Key!

by Nathan Empsall 2009-11-01 10:44AM | 0 recs
Re: A simpler point

I'm sure the reason my copy wandered off is that I lent it to someone after I told them what a good book it is!

by BRoss 2009-11-01 03:00PM | 0 recs
Re: The Sky Doesn't Fall With Deeds

Actually it does if you live in Virginia, which I guess you don't.

McDonnell is a horrible choice for governor.  Too bad the Democrats had a horrible candidate; it's like having no choice at all.

by KimPossible 2009-11-01 10:05AM | 0 recs
I beg to differ with this analysis

While Warner did win in 2001, he did so because he had been a huge favorite in that race before 9/11 and when Republican fortunes were heading south.  When 9/11 happened, it froze the campaign in Virginia in time and Mark Warner benefitted.  Bush did not campaign for Warner's opponent because he thought it would be in bad taste to get involved in politics so soon after 9/11.  After that loss, Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman got together with Bush and told him that Bush had to make 9/11 a political issue or they would lose the 2002 elections.  Sure enough, Bush turned 9/11 and terrorism into a political issue and won the 2002 elections.

by Kent 2009-11-01 02:03PM | 0 recs
Re: The Sky Doesn't Fall With Deeds

This poster is trying to encourage you.


Jason, thanks for your post. As for Upstate Kent and eight crybabies from Free Socialist Republic:

Go back to your mommy's basement. ('ve had it with you

by spirowasright 2009-11-01 06:00PM | 0 recs


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