Discussing issues that The United States face both foreign and domestic. A Non-partisan viewpoint where we believe in right and wrong not right and left, hopefully forming a more UNITED States of America.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Elections in '09: The Impact They Could Have

It's November, and that means it is time to head out to the polls and vote. Most of them are local elections, some are mayoral, but there are 3 races the nation or national news seem to be focusing their attention on. In a few hours, people in New Jersey and Virginia will vote for their next Governor, and people in the 23rd district of New York will vote for their representative in a special election.

While this year certainly is not as big of an election year as compared to 2008 or 2010. Some have claimed, such as Sebastian Smith of the AFP, in an article claiming these elections are a referendum on Barack Obama's presidency in the last year. I do agree that these three elections can show how people view the Obama Presidency, but I think it is a better example of a "litmus test" of what we can see in the 2010 elections.

Mr. Smith also claims that the "democrats [are] scrambling to starve off embarrassing defeats." I don't think they are "scrambling", but they do have reasons to be concerned. In 1993, one year after President Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush, it seemed as if the "Reagan Revolution" was on life support. New Jersey and Virginia would both go to republican candidates in their gubernatorial elections. A year later republicans would take control of both houses of congress by winning 62 seats in the House and Senate. However, in 2001, both gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia would go democratic and the GOP would gain seats in 2002, which they would have a majority in the House and Senate. A repeat of '94 in 2010 may not happen, but it is certainly a possibility because of the circumstances in these '09 elections.

Historically, Virginia has been a conservative state but has turned at least "purple" if not blue in the last decade. In recent polls, republican candidate Bob McDonnell leads double digits over the democratic candidate Creigh Deeds. Real Clear Politics has this race +13 points for McDonnell. President Obama won this state by 6 percentage points over McCain. It seems that the GOP will win this race, regaining a state that they have recently lost.

In New Jersey, the gubernatorial race is much closer and is essentially a "toss up." New Jersey, which in recent history has been very democratic, has not voted for a republican presidential candidate since George HW Bush in 1988. Chris Christie the republican candidate is challenging incumbent democrat Governor Jon Corzine. According to Real Clear Politics, Christie leads Corzine by 1 point. In a state that President Obama won by 16% percentage points, which he has been campaigning for Corzine in the last few days, shows a possible shift of political affiliation from democrats to republicans in a liberal state.

The last race, which is arguably the craziest of all three, is the 23rd district of New York. In a special election to fill a vacant seat in Congress, the Republican Party chose moderate candidate Dede Scozzafava while the Democratic Party chose Bill Owens. Historically, a republican has held this seat in Congress since the Civil War. However, President Obama did beat McCain in this district in 2008. Unhappy with some of the viewpoints of Scozzafava, Doug Hoffman decided to run as a Conservative in a district where he is not a resident. (Note: It is legal to run in any district of the state you live in.) A self proclaimed "9/12er", a group created by conservative Glenn Beck, which members are mostly on the right side of the political spectrum, who fear they are losing their rights from the Government since September 11, 2001. Hoffman is clearly on the far right, as seen in the previous link such as his opinion of the bailouts, stimulus package, healthcare, etc.

Over the last couple of weeks, the candidates were somewhat tied, however recently Ms. Scozzafava would drop into 3rd place. Over the weekend, Ms. Scozzafava would quit her campaign and endorse democratic candidate Bill Owens. This suddenly becoming a two-candidate race. New polls (since Ms. Scozzafava ended her campaign) have Hoffman in a 17 point lead, and have Owens in a slight lead. The winner of this election certainly will not be know until late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning. Even though this race is probably the least noticed of the 3, it could have the biggest impact. If the democrats win, they could use the historical impact of this election, to promote their ideas and strengthen their party. If the Conservative wins, who essentially overthrew the Republican, it could create a "Civil War" in the Republican Party as Robert George mentions on whether their future candidates should be conservative such as Mr. Hoffman, or more moderate such as John McCain.

All 3 elections could be a "litmus test" on President Obama's job approval in his first year of the Presidency and be a sneak peak for elections in 2010. If the GOP wins all three races (assuming Hoffman joins the Republican Party), this will probably show that they will win elections in 2010 and possibly a majority in Congress. If the Democrats win 2 out of the three (assuming and very likely that Virginia is a guaranteed victory for the GOP) they will certainly maintain a healthy majority in Congress after 2010. I could be wrong, and whatever happens on Tuesday could very well be the exact opposite in 2010 elections.

I am almost certain though that if the GOP does not make a choice on what principles will guide them, and the political "fighting" that happens between moderates and conservatives on whether they should be "the big tent party" trying to gain moderate democrats and independents along with conservatives. Compared to the "small tent party" which would be a party mainly for conservatives and some moderates. At first it seems the big tent theory is the better option, but according to Gallup, conservatives are the largest political group, moderates second, and liberal in third. Whichever plan the party goes with, they need stop being "the opposition" to anything President Obama tries to do, and actually create their own agenda, or they will lose many elections in the future.

Note: Article written for a class assignment.

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