11 Ways To Think About Tuesday Night

1. The White House has trouble melding its approach to governing, and standards of transparency and brand of being above politics, with a strong-arming White House political operation willing and capable of leading the Democratic party to victory.

2. Barack Obama's political coalition is not invincible and it is not perpetual. The Obama election didn't changed the fundamental political dynamics of off-year elections.

3. The White House's time horizons are longer than and different than the time horizons of House, Senate and gubernatorial candidates. It was more important for, say, Creigh Deeds, to get a health care bill passed by August than it was for President Obama. Obama's building a strong re-election coalition in 2012, but it's going to be frustrating for Democrats in the short term. Obama's approval rating in New Jersey was 57%.

4. The traditional, nonthreatening Republican economic message -- lower taxes, less spending, more disciplined government -- resonates better with independents than the Democratic message -- we need to spend our way out of the recession.

5. Deep recessions are deadly for governors, who must balance their budgets by cutting spending deeply or raising taxes.

6. It's very hard for Democrats to simultaneously turn out the Obama Coalition (younger, more liberal, more minority voters) and suburban independents (particularly older, particularly men).

7. Jon Corzine had record low approval ratings and very high disapproval ratings.

8. Chris Christie's anti-corruption reputation and property tax pledges worked.

9. Creigh Deeds happened to be a Democrat in a state that bordered the District of Columbia. In July and August, when residents of the DC media market were saturated with an unflattering view of disputatious partisan Democratic infighting, with reports of bailouts and trillion dollar deficits, Deeds's numbers among independents in this area -- and pretty much only this area -- tanked. He never recovered.

10. Since 1985, Virginia and New Jersey have always voted against the party in power in Washington in their sequential off-year elections.

11. Virginia's mid-summer budget crisis hurt Democrats.

Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This wildly inventive short film takes you on a whirling, spinning tour of the Big Apple

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Faces of #BlackLivesMatter

Scenes from a recent protest in New York City

Video

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life

The Supreme Court justice talks gender equality and marriage.

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Politics

Just In