Two Trends on Election Night
by Inoljt, Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 12:48:55 PM EST
By: Inoljt, http://thepolitikalblog.wordpress.com/
Last night's election exhibited two trends: one positive for the country as a whole, and one more ominous for Democrats. Firstly, Americans rejected negative campaigning and extremism - whether it be in Virginia, New Jersey, NY-23. Secondly, the electorate as a whole shifted quite profoundly to the right. This post will focus on the first aspect.
Negative Campaigning and Extremism
In the most-watched races, voters chose the side that espoused moderation and ran a positive message. The Democratic candidates in both Virginia and New Jersey focused on the negative: state congressman Creigh Deeds of Virginia spent most of his time attacking Attorney General Bob McDonnell's college thesis, while Governor Jon Corzine of New Jersey launched a barrage of negative ads. Both candidates lost.
There tends to be a myth, commonly repeated by the media, that negative campaigning works. They point to former President George W. Bush, whose Swiftboat ads ensured a 2% victory over Senator John Kerry. The truth, as recent elections show, is more complicated: Senator John McCain, Mr. Deeds, and Mr. Corzine all pinned their hopes on tearing down their opponent and all lost.
The other race featured the victory of moderate politics over extremism. In NY-23, a Republican-represented district since the Civil War, conservatives sabotaged the moderate Republican candidate in favor of hard-line Doug Hoffman. Fortunately, voters in upstate New York rejected the Glenn Beck nominee and instead chose Democrat Bill Owens, an independent turned Democrat.
Thus the election results enforced a positive trend in politics - one of moderation and positive campaigning focused on the issues, rather than divisive personal attacks. For Democrats like myself, however, the other trend - a rightward shift - is more worrisome. Hopefully it more reflects right-wing anger than the true national mood.