Thursday, October 22, 2009

Checking in with the off-off year elections

Let's take a look at how things are going, about two weeks out:
  • Virginia--Republican Bob McDonnell sure looks likely to win, thanks in large part to an inept, McCain-like campaign from Democrat Creigh Deeds. McDonnell's margin seems swollen, and I'm sure Deeds will be able to trim it to five points or so, but this will be a stinging loss with redistricting coming up after the census. Deeds has nobody to blame but himself for running a muddled campaign, and he's failed even despite manna from heaven in the form of Bob McDonnell's right-wing thesis. Deeds seemed to think he'd be able to skip to the governor's mansion by talking about how McDonnell used to subscribe to crazy views, instead of using those views as a pivot point to talk about his own agenda. An incoherent message, waiting for an opening instead of seizing the initiative, overkill on meaningless attacks--does this sound familiar?
  • New Jersey--Believe it or not, there are politicians that make Deeds look good. One of them is Republican Chris Christie from New Jersey. Deeds seems like the sort of affable local politician who merely hits his Peter Principle ceiling, while Christie seems like a complete, oblivious idiot. Christie, a former DA, decided to emphasize his anti-corruption cred in his race against unpopular Democratic Governor Jon Corzine, while evidently not realizing that the squeaky-clean reformer image would be shattered due to numerous instances of questionable judgment. I guess he assumed they wouldn't come out? We'll be greeted as liberators, too. Corzine has gone negative and drawn quite a bit of blood with his attacks, and this is looking to wind up like a typical New Jersey race in which the state teases the Republicans and then comes home to the Democrats. For Christie to lose a race he was once leading by 15 points is, to paraphrase Lewis Black, like a normal person to lose the special olympics.
  • New York 23rd District Special Congressional Election--massive drama here. The basics: Republican-held seat, moderate Republican challenged by teabagging third party candidate, putting the Democrat in a position to sit back, watch the fireworks, and collect the seat. Check out Dave Weigel for more.
To be perfectly honest, I'd probably prefer that the outcomes here be flipped, but you don't always get what you want. New Jersey could honestly use a period of non-Democratic rule to help weed out some of the corruption, and I'd rather hold the Virginia statehouse. But this is an interesting state of affairs: The GOP is perhaps at its strongest point of the election cycle--many Democrats aren't excited because success hasn't shown up yet, and the Republicans are mostly united in opposing healthcare reform. When we get into less ideological issues that could allow for cross-cutting coalitions, like immigration reform, that unity will end. Additionally, the end of our involvement in Iraq and a robust economic recovery will remove much Republican momentum. And they should be winning all three of these races, based on the fundamentals. But they've only been able to get their act together in one of them. NY-23 suggests that the base is not going to let moderates be nominated without tacking substantially to the right. This is going to be entertaining.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.