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'09 Elections, the GOP, and Obama
Conservative Party congressional candidate Doug Hoffman waits to vote at the town hall in Lake Placid, N.Y. on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009. (AP)

Conservative Party congressional candidate Doug Hoffman waits to vote at the town hall in Lake Placid, N.Y. on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009. (AP)

It was a “shot across the bow” Election Day for both parties yesterday. Different versions of a wake-up call.

For Democrats, two big losses in governors’ races in Virginia and New Jersey. No Obama effect to save the day. Maybe a damper on the Obama agenda.

For the GOP, big victories in those states, but a high-profile defeat for hard-right conservatives in an upstate New York district that has gone Republican since 1872. The Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Tea Party candidate down in flames, and the GOP civil war still on.

This hour, On Point: The ’09 elections — and the shots across the bow.

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.


Charles Mahtesian, national politics editor at Politico.  He’s been following the 2009 races closely and reported this week on conservatives gearing up to challenge GOP candidates. He joins us from Washington.

Ross Douthat, op-ed columnist for The New York Times and co-author of “Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream.” He writes in his latest column that third-party candidates injected substance into this year’s races.  He joins us from Washington.

Thomas Edsall, political editor of The Huffington Post and a professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. A political reporter at The Washington Post from 1981 to 2006, he’s author of “Building Red America: The New Conservative Coalition and the Drive for Permanent Power.”  He joins us from New York.

Mickey Edwards, former Republican Congressman from Oklahoma and member of the House Republican leadership. He’s now a lecturer at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and author of “Reclaiming Conservatism: How a Great American Political Movement Got Lost–And How It Can Find Its Way Back.”  He joins us from Newark, New Jersey.

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  • Christopher

    It has been rather disappointing to me to see such a heightened co-mingling of the White House and sub-national politics. I am a realist and understand why the White House would involve itself in state and local politics, but why Obama would stump for a Goldman Sachs exec in one of the most corrupt states in the U.S. is beyond me. He needs to worry less about being a democrat and more about being an American because Americans have WAY more problems than democrats.

    I suspect it is about money at the end of the day, just like the war in Iraq and the BCS.

  • Michael

    The daily show had a great show last night about this.



    I’m curious if on-point will do the same of what the daily show made fun of.

    Va was a given, NJ was close.

  • Swope

    Michael your so right, this means nothing.
    However if unemployment is still high or worse higher the Democrat’s will lose a lot of seats. The questions is will the Republican’s get their act together or will the they self destruct.

  • pw

    You can either look at the three races and say “plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose,” or you can keep cable tv providers in $$$ and get excited about the drama! battle! fight for the real America! etc. etc.

    NJ: Corzine corrupt, Corzine gone, NJ remains Dem in all but the state house and continues to support Obama.

    VA: Rep. winner did his best to keep his political party label off the screen — what does that tell you?

    NY23: Beck bombs. Pelosi gains.

    And now … back to our moutons.

  • K

    I think the media’s over zealous coverage and assumptions that these Governorships reflect badly on a president who is still vastly popular in both of these states is just feeding into the GOP fear mongering.

    When all you hear , read and see is negativity that is no longer equal and fair reporting but rather Opinion.

  • stacey annis

    I am a democrat who was lukewarm about the congressional race in upstate New York and initially considered not voting. The whole candidate selection process and campaign felt rushed. However, Congresswoman Scozzafava’s withdrawal and the ensuing circus of attention from outside changed that. I was actually moved to vote, and wonder how many other democrats came out of the woodwork in response to the Republican/Conservative’s overwhelming last minute full court press. All the attention from national press and party members felt intrusive and gave much more significance to the vote than warranted. I think the vote was actually a backlash to the conservative effort and maybe we won’t be alone in that.

  • Swope

    Oh boy Obama should be scared. A corrupt governor from New Jersey lost by taking out adds on the oppositions weight.
    Corzine was joke and would have lost not matter what.
    Mother Teressa could have campaigned for him and he would have still lost.

    This is a joke, everyone is spinning this to the point of absurdity.

    Let’s talk about how the Republicans are holding up a bill to extend unemployment benefits. How about the lack of good regulation being put into affect to rain in Wall Street and the banks.

    Health care? Does anyone remember that? It’s dieing as I type…

  • Ed

    The race for the 23rd was tainted by national figures. The Glen Becks, Sarah Palins turn off most moderate voters which upstate New York tend to be. Our voting processes not only are being hijacked by big money but by big mouths.

  • Eric

    I’m so tired of these local elections being portrayed as referendums on Obama. Exit polls showed the majority of people didn’t consider Obama as a factor when they voted. Why is the media still pushing this falsehood?

  • Todd

    This kind of discussion does little more than perpetuate the Left/Right paradigm that continues to keep America divided. Point never fails to disappoint.

  • BHA

    The reason the ‘Palin’ Republican lost is because Palin does not represent the values of MOST Republicans in the country.

    I live in western Vermont. The commercials for the NY race were almost comical. ALL attack, no substance AT ALL for the candidate.

    And Bloomberg got the term limits changed then bought his job for another term, a mere $100 Million of his own money. Economic stimulus I guess. Better spent on paying for ads where the payroll will trickle down instead of sitting in his bank.

  • David Riccardi

    What about the factor that both Corzine and Bloomberg have such tight association with Wall Street?

  • Swope

    I just turned off the audio. This show is not really saying anything or dealing with the real issues if there are any.

    It’s the economy…!!!1

  • Zack

    The future of the GOP is with Ron Paul and liberty-oriented the candidates that he has endorsed for 2010. Spare me these fake big-government conservatives Limbaugh, Palin, Romney, Bush, are all cut from the same corrupt cloth.

    Peter Schiff, Rand Paul (Ron’s son), Adam Kokesh, Gary Johnson – are men of integrity that all stand for returning to Constitutional government. They stand for ending to these needless foreign adventures and stopping government intervention overseas and at home. No more war, no more bailouts – more freedom and liberty please.

  • jeff

    After three years of vaporous promises about hope and change and a year of neglect and ineptitude, it is no wonder that independents are seeking a new path.

    Governing is hard work, campaigning not so much. America has learned its lesson and will remember in ’10 and ’12.

  • Arnold

    Obama made this a referendum on his presidency by showing up constantly in NJ in an effort to get former Goldman Sachs CEO Corzine re-elected as governor.

    He and his agenda were rejected completely. There is hope.

  • Larry Dolan

    I live just outside of Plattsburgh NY and I think that what the Republicans fail to recognize is the regional character of Republicanism. The North Country Republican has more of frontier mentality and a local identity rather than a national one.

    Plattsburgh was the first city in the nation to elect an openly gay mayor, a Republican named Dan Stewart.

    We have clearly turned a corner in the region and their is a major generational gap between old republicans and the new.

  • Todd

    “I just turned off the audio. This show is not really saying anything or dealing with the real issues if there are any.”
    Posted by Swope

    I’ll 2nd that sentiment.
    Then again, what else should we expect? In America, politics—like most everything else—has to be turned into a spectator sport before you can garner any interest from people. Americans can’t ever seem to do anything without making a competitive game out of it. But hey, the singular purpose of life is to always be having fun, right!? What a dumbed-down, puerile nation America has become.

  • Ellen Dibble

    BHA, I am in western Massachusetts, and I too heard Sarah Palin all over the radio, stations I don’t listen to except on election night, saying Vote Sarah, something like that. Where I live we don’t even know the party of the local candidates. I look for their ability to govern, i.e., gather the needed facts about how things are going, know the strings of governance like a master puppeteer. Party has nothing to do with it.
    Actually, particular issues and stances matter less to me (win some, lose some) than “gathering” and knowing the way to get things done (“governance”). Sometimes one candidate gathers better, the other is better with managing the strings. The biggest disappointment can be when there is only one candidate. A no-show voter is voting against.
    I hope nationally that “gathering” people becomes more important than wielding issues (some better left to the justice system). And “governance” (the puppet show master) — it seems Corzyn fails by corruption, and Bloomberg might win on that by the slim margin plus $$.

  • http://facebook K miksis

    The Democrats need to be very wary of tacking any more toward the center–that has been the problem. I agree that many who supported Obama in NJ and VA stayed home partly b/c they are impatient that so little has been done but also b/c they do not see the immediate connection b/w state and fed gov’t. As for the new repub govs–good luck. I don’t think there will be many sitting state govenors who will survive the next 2 to 4 years. Services will need to be cut and taxes will need to be raised

  • Natalie S

    Your crazies on the left and right will draw all sorts of bizarre conclusions from yesterday’s votes. But elections are determined by where the middle goes. I think the last four years of elections indicate that the middle is desperate for a new leadership. We will consider anyone, no matter how little experience they have or how little detail they provide. We want somebody who does what they say they are going to do and who takes the steps that seem so necessary to get this country moving in the right direction.

    The door is open for a third party.

  • Todd

    “…the left and right will draw all sorts of bizarre conclusions from yesterday’s votes. But elections are determined by where the middle goes.
    The door is open for a third party.”
    Posted by Natalie S

    This gets my vote for the most on point comment posted here. You got it Natalie S!

  • Janet

    It’s good to see New Jersey elect a conservative for a change.

  • Cory

    The American electorate (myself included) are stupid and fickled. Democrats sweep into power and when Obama can’t make it rain M&Ms one year later, the Republicans begin to regain control. I’m not sure what is worse, our selfishness or our short attention span.

    We get the government we deserve.

    Just wondering what the plans are for the newly elected Republicans… Tax cuts and deregulation perhaps? I didn’t like that novie the first time I saw it!

    And good god, can someone please do something about Joe (Aetna) Lieberman!!!

  • http://flickr.com/photos/kevbo/ Kevbo

    St. Lawrence voters voice disdain at negative tone of Congressional race

  • Anthony

    Democrats have controlled Congress for 3 years and the executive branch for 1 year. Despite all the bluster, the economy is in a state of despair and jobs are evaporating. Let’s say we try something else.

  • Bubba

    I’ll trade you one poverty stricken upstate NY district for two important governorships and a homosexual marriage referendum.

  • Eric

    Like others have noted, I find it hard to take serious broad generalizations, by your program and others, that are based on the results of two or three races.

  • Brett

    I was glad to hear about the outcome in the 23rd district in NY. Dee Dee Scozzafava ran a poor campaign, and was perhaps “too liberal” for many conservative voters. Whatever votes she would have gotten had she stayed in probably went to Democrat Owens, as she threw her support to him. Ultimately, the win was about specificity of local politics being more of a concern to voters than some trumped up socio-cultural war. I think it perhaps shows that the Sarah Palin, Dick Army, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glen Beck arm of the “Tea-Party Movement” is much more of a paper lion than those shadow politicians would have anyone believe. What happened in NY23rd is good for politics in that it shows candidates need to be very in touch with real issues that are important to voters, and it shows that deep pockets working behind the scenes don’t always prevail.

    I think it is also indicative of what will happen to Republicans if they do continue closing off that “big tent” and continue their in-house bickering. Just after the presidential election, the Bill Kristols, David Frums and Karl Roves of the Republican “wisdom” commented that strategies for Republican leadership should be to move much more toward the right, “getting back” to so-called “core values.” I remember thinking how this would be good for the Democratic Party. Where the Democrats often miss the boat is that Republican strategists are quick studies and work well to redefine their message and retool their strategy after a misstep.

    In my home state, Virginia, what happened was disappointing but not unexpected. Typically, there is a backlash after a presidential election for Va. voters to go against the new president’s party, particularly if they feel, no matter how warranted/unwarranted, results from a new administration have been less than stellar. Hearing Va. characterized as a “purple” state was amusing. No; It is a “red” state that sometimes turns “blue.” There are a lot of swing voters in Va., and not all definitions of swing voters are the same. In Va. they are more like the undecided voters one sees on talk shows just before a national election who, three days before an election, will say, “gosh, I just don’t know; both candidates make some good points!” They are as fickle as can be, but they do respond–like most voters–to real issues being discussed. What happened was Deeds ran a bad campaign. He stuck to a negative campaign playbook, which Va. voters don’t like. He also did not reach out to young voters or new voters. (These voters have made the difference for Democrats in Va.) I live in a university town, and there were not the rallies/activities on campus seen in the earlier gubernatorial elections of Kaine and Warner. Many of them did not vote. McDonnell stuck to a smart campaign of economic concerns and didn’t venture much into social issues (essentially, he kept his mouth shut about his views on gays, women, abortion, the environment: Republican “core values,” etc.) The good news about Va. voters is that they do not hold on to loyalties just for the sake of it.

    It was also not unexpected to hear Mcdonnell invoke God and the Boy Scouts in his acceptance speech last night! His problem will be that he won’t be able to keep his ultra-conservative views to himself while in the course of his term.

  • Bob

    Please, were you paying attention? Republican and Conservatives got the majority of the votes in the 23rd district. Next year when we all do this again I guarantee the campaign will be more organized and the result completely different. Unless Obama and the Democrats can pull a miracle, and given their dithering and stumbling I don’t hold much hope for that, the 23rd will soon have better representation.

  • Nate

    I really see just a bunch of finger pointing and “We are right. You are wrong…” going on. It is no wonder BOTH parties in Washington cannot seem to get anything done. They simply mirror the very attitudes and behaviors that the masses have.

  • Cory

    If you are are of the opinion that Obama has had long enough and it’s time for a new direction, I don’t know where to begin to find common ground with you. He gets one quarter of his term to turn it all around? Should we impeach him now, or just let him founder about and waste our time for the next three years?

    I think we all need a little Ritalin for our political ADD.

  • Nicholas

    Of course not. But as a Democrat, the stars are aligned for him. If he can’t get anything meaningful accomplished with a political mandate and tremendous momentum, then we need to give the job to a leader who can. I think he needs to clean house (start with Geithner, Sebalius and Emanuel), move Hillary front and center to a domestic policy position and put Kerry in her place. Hillary has all the energy and policy wonkishness necessary to get stuff done. She can get Reid and Pelosi to get busy or get out of the way.

    I’m not giving up on Obama, but he’s been tremendously disappointing. Time for change!

  • Putney Swope

    It’s the congress that makes the laws not Obama.
    The main issue for me is Habeas Corpus. This administration has not put any effort into to checking the powers of the office of the President, something I thought Obama was promising during the campaign.

    He really has blown the health care bill and really lost he momentum on that. In the end it’s congress that has the power to write the laws, not the president.

    I’m less impressed with the democrat’s in congress.

  • Brett

    Well, Bob,

    You weren’t reading my point with any thought process. But your point doesn’t matter: it doesn’t matter that Democrats didn’t get as many votes as ALL other candidates combined in this race. Anyway, my point was that conservatives shot themselves in the foot! Is it too much to hope that you could draw that conclusion without having it spelled out? Nobody was discussing the next election. This race was not won by being against liberalism, to be sure; it may have been won by being against conservatism, though, at least Hoffman’s brand of conservatism.

    Who knows what would have happened had Ms. Scozzafava run a better campaign, had she collected a lot more money for her war chest and had stayed in (maybe if she had done a media blitz the entire day before). Maybe she would have been a “spoiler” for Owens…who knows, but that’s a lot of maybeeze! It seems Hoffman’s Conservatism (and the votes for such) was less effected by Scozzafava (whether she dropped out or stayed in) and more effected by its own Conservatism. That, and the fact that Owens ran a better campaign, talking more about pertinent issues.

  • Louise

    It’s official, the far left Obama presidency has been soundly rejected by the American people. The fine people of New Jersey and Virginia said NO to OBAMACARE, no to higher energy taxes, no to trillion dollar deficits, no to a collapsing dollar, no to taxing health care benefits, but most of all they said NO to you and your failed socialist presidency Mr. Obama.

  • Nicholas

    PS, how many excuses are you going to make for this guy? If the leaders in Congress don’t respect him, why should we? I didn’t vote for do nothing, but that’s what were getting, or worse. The clock is ticking, the time for getting things done is fleeting. BO appears to be stuck in neutral. Time to shake it up!

  • jeff

    The WH is totally rookie. Picking a fight with Fox, pathetic, and guaranteed to lose. Dropping the ball on healthcare, cap ‘n trade, peace in the Middle East, Israeli settlements, NATO, Iran, Russia, reset button, protecting our allies, North Korea, deficits … I could go on and on.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I really worry about manipulation of the “mass” vote (by individuals with money or parties with unscrupulous wonks who will get votes from x, y, and z, and then govern on behalf of a, b, and c). Why?
    I truly thought election night was Halloween displaced by three nights. I went back and forth across the radio dial and heard “Sarah” (the voice of Sarah Palin) asking everybody to vote Sarah. Oh, you mean Madonna is running (Ms. One Name, the Prince person), even after the polls have closed? Well, Alaska is in another time zone, so “they” don’t know. “Sarah” seemed to mean vote Republican.
    I think there is a bill in Congress to allow airwaves to be used for local FM stations, and I believe NPR has been in dialogue with the low energy FM bill people to shape that bill since it would be largely NPR’s airspace being intruded on. We need that or most “attentive” Americans will Vote Sarah.
    But here, locally, there was either the McPolitics of coverage, off by timezone, off by candidate, devoid of content, or the local public access TV, which just started a political multi-media branch (conglomerating all local coverage and adding its own) a month ago, and Their Young Man at City Hall had a mike with batteries that kept taking the equivalent of bathroom breaks, and which always picked up the second mayoral candidate while just missing the first candidate’s number. (The results are still a bit incomplete a day later, old media having caved to Australia or Alaska, new media being, well, new.) And at the critical moment, Our New Media was suddenly replaced by a replay of an old city council meeting, for maybe ten minutes, my suspicion being: till the most exciting ten minutes were over.
    I expect Madonna and Barbie to be elected in 2010 unless Americans get a lot smarter fast.

  • Louise

    Yeah, it’s the economy stupid. Obama’s failing economy.

  • Louise

    I don’t think that Madonna or Barbie could do a worse job of running this country than Obama is. How’s that “Hope and Change” working for you Ellen Dibble?

  • MIchael

    We Desperately need someone like Louise to run for office. Who could stick to GOP talking points so well.

    Who We fight for us against government Public Option watered down health care While keeping Government run military and VA health care and benefits.

    Who will cut taxes even further for the wealthiest of americans while still being in 2 wars.

    Maybe Louise and Palin 2012 Cause both has shown time and time again their intelligences and use of words.

    Who else with hard work has found obama to be a Kenyan Muslim, communist fascist but Louise. Thank you :)

    Without Louise insightful post one would think the economy is in such shape because of lack of health care, deregulation, unrestricted lobbying, corporate greed, two 2wars while lowering taxs, massive outsourcing of american jobs,7years for the Bush admin to make a decision and change course in Afghanistan.

    But because of Louise i now see it all started once obama got in office any knowledgeable person would know that it shouldn’t take 9 months or longer. We need someone like Palin who wouldn’t quit. I mean president not governor, someone with the moral value to not whore her children on stage I mean as president no VP candidate. Some that will Push abstinence only, I mean for others not her children.

    Louise/ Palin 2012 :) :)

  • Mark Sumner

    The answer to what happened last night: three really poor candidates lost. Corzine was damaged goods from the outset, and both Deeds and Hoffman were among the worst campaigners of the decade.

    Reading more into it than that the best campaigners won is magical thinking.

  • Michael


    I see NPR in the future at least most of it becoming like CNN. And pulling some of the far right folks who appear on such programs of beck and Hanity for balance. Even when the topic, subject is debunked, you have these people flaming it and giving the maybe, possibly. Just look at this show today, how many times did maybe, if, butt was said? Or since NPR got a infusion of cash from the widow of McDonalds and there new CEO, interviewed by Tom a year or 2 ago. It’s been sacrificing objectivity and journalism for Supposed balanced and opinions. How many more commercials are now playing on NPR? I heard that glee one for weeks. How much does NPR pay there CEO(i couldn’t find it)?How much is NPR taking from Think Tanks and PACs( i couldn’t find that as well).

    Foxs has scared and enable other networks to try to be balance and more opinionated cause it pays more money, and enable themselves to go as far right, crazy as they wish to and claim its balance, it also enable far right radio host who normally can only spew there hate on the radio can now do it on Cable with the seal of fair and balance.

    Majority of Americans are kneejeck ones and we only pay attention often if its is entertaining or put into a war win/lose, us vs them,

    Not sure if you watch Talk of the Nation? since it has become 2 hour it become more entertainment than news, and guest such as Michael Goldberg( look him up if you like, frequent guest on the Glen B show) as a objective reporter paired with David Gergan to bat.

  • Ellen Dibble

    The political parties probably want everybody to be kneejerk this or that, probably always have and always will. For decades I was too involved in getting my own life sorted out, getting on my feet, to be involved. Then I was much too busy. If others are like me, it’s only people well over 50 who could responsibly vote. And it seems to me people over 50 often vote as if the world came to a stop decades earlier, when they were coming of age.
    Michael, this evening Kathleen Hall Jamison (who is often on Bill Moyers’ Journal) was part of a piece on Talking Heads on The News Hour, and she said that people like Beck and Limbaugh are good for democracy in that a certain group of people can understand their perspective, so because this makes sense, coheres in some way, they become engaged, involved, which democracy needs. Then she said, the down side is that those people think that democratic discourse consists of the kind of extreme, distorted sort of hurling of emotionally tainted perspectives. I forget how she said it. She is more tactful than I am. So the “choirs” as someone named them are out there trying to emulate the sort of yelling they hear, under the impression this is how dialogue is done.
    Someone was saying that the Glen Beck and Limbaugh sorts have small audiences (4 million for instance), but get a lot of attention. I think in the 1940s, there was an audience of 40 million for some preacher who was either for or against Communism; I forget. Such us-versus-them talk is more entertainment than getting at truth. And I heard tracings of the lives of such loud mouths in various rabble-rousing professions as sportscasters.
    Someone on the Newshour was saying Beck, Limbaugh et al. are basically local, meaning cable or something like that. Huh?
    Please not PBS, please not NPR. I do hear TOTN, Talk of the Nation, from time to time. My impression is that between BBC — and all-day internet availability of all sorts of information and news, we are not going into decadent ignorance anytime soon, however.

  • Jack Shultz

    Boy, what a difference a borderline can make. I live in Montreal, just 60 miles from Plattsburg NY, but it is almost a different world here when it comes to health care.
    I hear one of the pundits talk about “moderate” Democrats, who oppose the public option. Therefore, those Democrats who support a public health insurance system are presumably the “extremists”.
    Here in Canada, we have had a single payer health insurance system for about 40 years.
    Overall, I don’t think that Canadians are really that much more left leaning than Americans are, but when it comes to our Medicare system, every party supports it.
    Here in Canada, a politician who opposed the idea of a publicly run health care system is considered to be an extremist, if not outright nuts.
    At any rate, even in our most conservative province, Alberta, which has a political culture more akin to that of Texas than Toronto, a politician who opposed Medicare would be virtually unelectable.

  • Brett

    ‘The fine people of New Jersey and Virginia said NO to you and your failed socialist presidency Mr. Obama.’ -Louise

    Well, coming from Virginia and following politics very closely here, I can only deduce that you drew your conclusions without any investigation into what transpired. Deeds’ total campaign was predicated on a combination of attacking McDonnell’s social views (not his positions on issues) and his almost complete condemnation of Obama’s policies. So, according to your logic, Deeds should have won! What actually happened, though, is McDonnell ran a campaign on issues Virginians care about, e.g., state economy, state transportation, and jobs (all promises, mind you, at this point). McDonnell even praised some of Obama’s policies (as part of his pretense that he is a centrist and not an ultra-conservative). Virginians don’t care for candidates who run negative campaigns; they like candidates who run from the center. The other factor was low voter turn out. If you studied political races in Virginia at all, you would know that historically Democrats don’t fare well when there is low voter turn out (this is even true in national elections). Clearly you don’t follow politics, though, and to anyone who reads this blog regularly, you offer little more than conservative talking points and snipes at those with whom you disagree.

  • Brett

    ‘Republican[s] and Conservatives got the majority of the votes in the 23rd district.’ -Bob

    This exemplifies the garden-variety, low-hanging, neo-con, civilian view, and it is one that parrots the spin that Republican Party (particularly the Conservative wing) leadership puts on post-election commentary. The assessments include data that are incidental to the outcomes, and they proclaim by inference that an outcome was actually not the one perceived by consensus view. So, in this ostensible parallel universe, a loss is actually a win; and, in this universe, the numbers indicate majority support for republicanism/conservatism. In the case of the NY 23rd, this skewed reasoning (perhaps through the misinterpretation of the aforementioned data?) surfaces despite the fact that the Republican candidate got very few votes, despite the fact that the Democrat received a majority of the votes, and despite the fact that the Conservative candidate lost, despite the full support for the Conservative–including but not limited to resources from very deep pockets–by the big name brands from the national Neo-Con figure heads.

  • Ellen Dibble

    MIchael’s 8:54 post rates 5 stars for having me laughing on and on and on, by the way.
    About voting on issues in campaigns, as Brett points to in Virginia, I had posted that I look to capacity to gather information from the electorate (mostly after previous elections, but I’m talking locally where people hold whole series of positions), and governance. We are being told here that people vote on specific issues, so a candidate can consult the statistics and find one that suits the situation. Abortion is right up there in ability to manipulate votes. Certain national candidates even shift their stance in order to accommodate
    Locally, for instance the state wants to build a multi-million interstate highway interchange overlapping a neighborhood. Our New Age transportation specialist, an astronomer on what I call the bicycle committee, was a voice in the wilderness for years, saying that the wider the roads, the more the traffic, that such roads attract traffic, while narrow roads repel traffic. Furthermore, the neighborhood was opposed: The state should save their money. Now I suddenly hear the mayor state that the astronomer has finally persuaded her (to oppose the interchange) on the very grounds he’s always stated, that traffic would only increase. I am thinking how timely for the mayor to become persuaded, these years later, on the eve of a close election. Is some bloc of voters involved? So the mayor is maneuvering issues — of course.
    But Brett, the basic mode of governance in this local case has been to make the decisions, make all the arrangements, and then, after the fact, ask essentially for the electorate/community to come together in various forums and bless the thing after the fact. Something might actually be on the table for discussion, along the lines of how to decorate the cake. (This is how some employees waste their time in meetings designed to make them feel important.)
    So I say being an issue voter, particularly a single-issue voter (able to be manipulated by the use of statistics), is tricky. If you can find out the style of leadership (top-down/bottom-up?) and governance, that is better, because for one thing the issue you vote on (which already came up) might never come up again. So that’s my reason.

  • Brett

    ‘So I say being an issue voter, particularly a single-issue voter (able to be manipulated by the use of statistics), is tricky. If you can find out the style of leadership (top-down/bottom-up?) and governance, that is better, because for one thing the issue you vote on (which already came up) might never come up again. So that’s my reason.’ -Ellen

    This is a good point, about style and governance. I see the same thing in the work world where employees go along with what they think are the right issues and don’t consider what will be the best process. They also often don’t see how going along with one issue may in the long run mean the negation of another, more important issue.

    I wouldn’t have quite the same cynicism toward issues themselves as you, though. In terms of the issues, the voter is required to do a lot of fact checking and gathering background information on candidates’ positions. Candidates will often use language that is careful to not alienate people or will make general statements that no reasonable person would disagree with, yet what they mean is they are going to do what they intend to do no matter what the constituency wants. But the issues themselves ARE important. If the new governor does a good job of being fair and has a style of gathering information and implementing approaches based on consensus, I don’t care what his social views are, but if he uses his personal views to push an agenda or manipulate his role with the General Assembly…

    I guess my point is that a management style can be used to deceive people to think there is fair governance in similar ways as having issues manipulated.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I think Obama (a community organizer, needless to say, so with some experience in bottom-up efforts) is trying to use that more participatory approach with the health care initiative, especially since the more top-down approach used by the Clintons during Bill Clinton’s presidency (offering a complete bill to Congress which was neatly rejected, as I understand it) since that top-down approach flopped pretty quick around 1993. I worry Obama like our mayor will take the stance: “I’m impatient; I’ll conduct my initiatives behind closed doors from now on; I know best what will work for everyone.” And right now a lot of voters seem to be in favor of the impatient, top-down, less participatory approach.
    The issue itself, health care — well, as you say, a lot can happen to an issue along the way.

  • Brett

    The ways the two presidents each handled the health care issue, the differences in their approaches, is a great example of the differences in the two presidents. I would rather be governed by an Obama-style leader of the two. The problem for some people, with the way he spends a lot of time gathering information and listening to many differing opinions before drawing enough of a conclusion to act, is that Obama appears indecisive. I don’t believe there is enough information on Obama yet to determine if he is analytical and a leader who plods, getting as much participatory action as possible, or if he is indecisive and those admiral qualities are enablers, so to speak. I also hope, as you say, that he doesn’t change his approach too much in the presidential learning curve, and becomes a president who simply reacts. I mean, Bush was very decisive…so that approach in and of itself isn’t necessarily a good one! After the way the Clinton’s handled healthcare reform, Obama had little choice, politically, but to proceed the way he did. I would have. Congress needs to be more the one to take the lead in ownership of the issue, anyway, although the process involves (and should) both. As far as Afghanistan goes, both Obama and Congress should make the decision, with him taking more of a lead than with healthcare is my sense of it. When I was supervising many people, I would act differently in different situations. In some decisions, the participatory process itself was paramount, in others acting quickly and decisively. Still, in others a combination of the two (with a strong emphasis on knowing what was best in what situation) was appropriate.

  • Natalie

    It wouldn’t appear that Obama has the capacity to be decisive at all. He hasn’t made one good decision, much less one very noteworthy. It doesn’t seem like he was ready on day 1 to get anything done. Next time, we should choose someone who doesn’t need on the job training; Rome is burning.

  • Brett

    All presidents need on the job training! But considering you think, Natalie, that he wasn’t right for the job from ‘day 1′ and you didn’t think he would get anything done from that starting point, one could draw the conclusion that you made up your mind without any observation, thought or consideration before that point. And to use the phrase ‘Rome is burning’ as some kind of direct analogy would at best be hyperbole, but really is just silly. You are equating Obama with Nero! Natalie you don’t appear to have much grasp of history…and instead of reading my comment accurately, that it was about governing styles, you engaged in petty opportunism. Yes, you don’t like Obama; we get it, we got it long ago, in your first comment on these blogs. Say something contributory to the discussion, for once!

  • millard-fillmore

    And good god, can someone please do something about Joe (Aetna) Lieberman!!!”

    Cory, would that be after of before we do something about George (Aramco) Bush, Dick (Haliburton) Cheney, Joe (Visa/Mastercard) Biden and Barack (health insurance industry) Obama? ;)

  • Natalie

    Your personal attacks aside, Obama has shown through indecisiveness that he was not ready. Years of promise making and suggestions of dynamic change to come have little to show 1 year in. Judging by his rhetoric leading up to the election noting that he saw so much wrong with the previous administration, it is beyond puzzling that he didn’t have had a plan of action ready. The only conclusion one can draw from the current state of affairs is that he did not. Apparently everything is just fine. Tell that to the 10 million unemployed since January and an equal number uninsured.

  • jeff

    Can we do something about Chris (Countrywide) Dodd, Charles ($2 million unreported income) Rangel, Nancy (T. Boone Pickens hedge fund) Pelosi, Harry (sweetheart real estate deals) Reid, Dick (my wife and son the lobbyists) Durbin, Rahm (keep my house seat warm for me) Emanuel, Jesse (how much for that Senate seat?) Jackson Jr. …? It’s a long line.

  • Natalie

    Unemployment explodes to 10.2%, another 200,000 jobs lost just last month. Where’s the President? Fundraising for the status quo?

  • Sheila Knoploh-Odole

    Republicans shouldn’t wet their pants in excitement just yet. Low voter turn out makes any evaluation dubious. 2 states out of fifty votin for Republican governors is not of statistical significance. Democrats cleaned up in local elections all across the country, especially mayoral races. Polls keep showing the public opinions of Republicans remains bleak. See Washington Post/ABC poll from two weeks ago, 79% Americans polled lacked confidence in Republican ability to make the right decisions for the country.

  • Jeff W.

    See recent Chicago Tribune and Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel articles on how the Obama administration is lying about the job count related to the stimulus plan. It is likely that you’ll see them propose additional “stimulus.”

Aug 29, 2014
Ukrainian forces guard a checkpoint in the town of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko called an emergency meeting of the nation's security council and canceled a foreign trip Thursday, declaring that "Russian forces have entered Ukraine," as concerns grew about the opening of a new front in the conflict.  (AP)

War moves over Syria, Ukraine. Burger King moves to Canada. Nine-year-olds and Uzis. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Aug 29, 2014
Beyoncé performs at the 2014 MTV Music Video Awards on Sunday, August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Getty)

Sex, power and Beyoncé’s feminism. The message to young women.

Aug 28, 2014
Some of the hundreds of earthquake damaged wine barrels cover and toppled a pair of forklifts at the Kieu Hoang Winery, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Napa, Calif. A powerful earthquake that struck the heart of California's wine country caught many people sound asleep, sending dressers, mirrors and pictures crashing down around them and toppling wine bottles in vineyards around the region. (AP)

Drought in California, earthquake in Napa. We look at broken bottles and the health of the American wine industry.

Aug 28, 2014
Photos surround the casket of Michael Brown before the start of his funeral at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014.  (AP)

The message that will last out of Ferguson with New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb.

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