Lessons of the Election

The pundits and ideologist will tell you that there were some profound messages sent to politicians as it relates to the elections results in New Jersey and Virginia governor races. They’ll look at the NY-23 race and highlight the significance of the race and what it means for the Congressional races of 2010.

Many of them will be right on some levels but mostly they will not give you the gist of what really took place and what it means. I am no political insider or historian but I’ve followed politics long enough to know that what seems complicated to the media and politicians are very simple to the voters.

And that is my perspective on this. What the voters said and what politicians can learn from it.

All Politics are local: Never forget this. The three major elections may very well have some national implications but they are first and foremost local races. In Virginia, it was a rematch of Deeds and McDowell. McDowell, the conservative, ran a basic campaign and discussed the issues facing the people of Virginia. Deeds, conversely, talked about a paper McDowell wrote almost two decades ago. That didn’t work in the Presidential race and it certainly won’t work in a race for governor.

The New Jersey race came down to Gov. Corzine’s record. Taxes, jobs, corruption was the meme of that race and Corzine was behind the eight ball on all three. Christy ran a poor campaign but when the incumbent has no accomplishments to point out, he’s in for a long election night.

In the NY-23rd race is now the poster child for this lesson. The Conservative Party candidate, backed by a lot of big-named Conservatives did an interview where it was clear he had no idea of the issues that matter to the people in that district. Dick Army, a GOP operative then went on to say that those issue were parochial. That was a major misstep. Those issues matter. People will first care if the trash is being collected and that the garbage is being removed well before they care about making a statement about the President’s agenda. Any mayor worth his salt would tell you the same.

It’s Not About Obama… It is about Obama: It sounds crazy but both sides have a point. Although the races came down to local issues, there is a mood in this country that the Democrats are overreaching and people are anxious. That sentiment is ignored at the peril of the Democrat Party. The Democrats now have a year to SHOW that their policies will indeed make America a better place. History is not on their side. More often than not, the Party in power loses seats in midterm elections and 2010 should be no different. How many seats are lost is up the strength of the candidate and the economy as a whole. As an outsider it is possible to run on rhetoric. As an incumbent, you must run on accomplishments.
Conservatism is not dead: Karl Rove made the grave mistake of making remarks about a permanent majority for the GOP. The same holds true for Democrats. Conservatism is a main staple of American politics. Its issue is not that people no longer believed in it, it’s just that when those who touted it as their basis for governing didn’t abide by its principles once in power. Neo-Cons are gone (for now, but they’ll be back). Conservatism is not like being a Libertarian where it sounds good but no one believes you could actually govern a country in that fashion. It is possible to run the government using Conservative principles. So they’ll always be around and Liberals would be better served if we listened to them.

Tea baggers and Shill Conservatism equals loss: Forty percent of Americans identify themselves as “conservative”. But a very small segment of that 40 percent would say they believe Obama is not American, the Liberals are the enemy of America or that Creationism and Evolution should have equal standing in a science class. Yes, the Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaugh’s of the world can draw ratings but remember, even with their ratings, these individuals are have a daily listening audience of maybe three percent of the American populous. The two GOP candidates in New Jersey and Virginia didn’t win by screaming socialism and Marxism. Note how Sarah Palin campaigned for neither and both won but the candidate she publicly supported, lost in the NY-23rd. There is a way back for Republicans but it’s not through a tea bagging revolt rally.

There are not coattails in midterm elections: A President can help lose a lot of seats during the mid-term elections but he can’t win many. Democrats must realize that the enthusiastic electorate of an historical campaign run cannot be duplicated for Congressmen and governors. Pundits are asking where were all of the young people and minorities that voted during the election. They were at home not giving a damn about the choices on the ticket. It is up to the candidate to generate the enthusiasm. You must give people a reason to come out and support you. The opposition has built-in enthusiasm. Not the case for an incumbent.

There is nothing scientific about any of this. Once you remove your partisan goggles, it is clear what the way forward is for both parties.


9 Responses to Lessons of the Election

  1. Erik A. Prince Says:
    Very good analysis. I especially liked your statement about Conservative principles. It is one of the reasons I don't have much respect for the big name Conservatives, they preach one thing and deliver another. Your point on Liberals listening to Conservatives is also well taken. I have always believed that the answers to all our problems are not to be found on the Left or the Right, but in the middle. Taking the best from both sides.

    Erik Prince
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