Live Election Night Analysis With Marc Ambinder and Matthew Cooper

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Marc Ambinder (11:56 p.m.)

Assuming that Bill Owens's victory holds through the counting of absentees, voters in the 23rd did not embrace Doug Hoffman like conservatives embraced him. Enough voters saw Hoffman as a carpetbagger -- he didn't even live in the district -- who was trying to hijack their district for his own ideological ends. This is a Republican district, but it's not a terribly conservative district. It's genteel  more than activist.  The final straw: Hoffman didn't even try to pretend that the election was about the issues of the district. It was all about him -- and what he represented.  In a way, NY 23ers took to Hoffman like Iowans took to Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean in 2003. They wanted a representative, not a movement candidate. They didn't take kindly to all these outsiders telling them how to work.

Marc Ambinder (11:43 p.m.)

A tough night for gays: despite a huge, expensive and sophisticated effort in a moderate, fairly libertarian state, it looks like same-sex marriage will not be approved by voters in Maine.  A domestic partnership initiative in Washington State is TBD.

Matthew Cooper (10:30 p.m.)If the Dems pick up the NY-23 House seat, what does it mean? A rejection of outsiders coming into a rural area and telling locals who their nominee should be? A victory for Democrats in general? A blow to the Republicans who endorsed Hoffman and offed the GOP nominee? However you spin it, not the best story going into Sarah Palin's book launch.


New York Times hedging a bit in its headline, according to Michael Calderone at Politico. They had declared Bloomberg a third term winner, now he's just projected. Amazing that it was this close. 

Maine gay marriage repeal numbers taking awhile. I'm betting the citizens vote no and keep Maine a gay marriage state. 


Marc Ambinder (10:20 p.m.)
The Republican wins in New Jersey and Virginia and the close race in New York City tells us...
...self-financers, people affiliated with Big Wall Street, the Old Money Crowd, the establishment, the party leadership... are being put on notice. Not a Democratic or Republican thing...but a gun, fired by the political regulars -- not the newer Obama turnout cohort but the regular off-year cohort -- at the heart of those who protect those in power, at bailouts, at spending.

Also: very easy alternate explanation: the economy sucks. States are really hurting. Governors are very unpopular. Their support is going to crater.

Matthew Cooper (10:09 pm)

A few odds and ends: Democrats pick up some mayorships and city council seats in New Hampshire. Hoboken elects its first woman mayor. Meanwhile it looks like McDonnell's final numbers in VA will be close to the blow out that George Allen gave Mary Sue Terry. 

Why was New York so close? Hubris of Third Term? Rejection of big money? Complacency? Howard Wolfson? Just kidding, @howiewolf. 

My previous post was written under the assumption that Corzine can't pull it out. I think that's gonna hold true. Christie racking up huge numbers in traditional GOP strongholds like Morris County and I don't see Essex and Hudson up north coming through big enough.

Two things that make VA and NJ important. VA is the nation's only one-term governorship, so McDonnell is pushed onto the national stage when he departs office in a few years. New Jersey is the strongest governorship in the country with no other statewide elected offices. And it's given us one president: Woodrow Wilson.


Marc Ambinder 10:00 pm

Ponderables:

...Why did Democrats strengthen their majorities in New Hampshire?
...How come Democrats are holding their own in Virginia State Legislative races?
...How come the New York City mayor's race is so close...even though the race has already been called...it's not going to be a Bloomberg blowout over Bill Thompson...
...What's happening in New York's 23rd CD? Why are GOPers suddenly nervous?


Marc Ambinder (9:24 p.m.)

Republicans are excited about Michigan's 20th State Senate district, where candidate Mike Nofs looks like he'll cruise comfortably to victory. This district was abandoned by a Democrat who left to run for Congress. Nofs and Griffin are both moderates.

Marc Ambinder 9:15 p.m.)

Democrats at very senior levels are worried about New Jersey. Jon Corzine isn't getting the spread he needs out of Camden County, Chris Christie has a good lead in Bergen County, (which Real Clear Politics's Mike Memoli points out is a county that Republicans need to win), and is leading in Union County. That said, a healthy chunk of Corzine's vote isn't in yet.

Marc Ambinder (9:06 p.m.)

Yes, independents are moving to the GOP. That's a big headline. Bad news for Dems, etc, etc. But. And this is important: these are conservative independents. Many disassociated with the GOP -- at least in terms of what they tell pollsters -- because of the GOP brand problems and because it's cool to be independent in parts of the country and in parts of states. Don't confuse "moderates" with "independents."  Still, it seems clear that for people who call themselves independent, Republican messages wear better than Democrats.

Marc Ambinder (8:41 p.m.)

By reporting and estimates, the Republican gubernatorial ticket outspent the Democratic ticket in Virginia by about $8 million. This includes a large downstate Chamber of Commerce ad buy.

Marc Ambinder (8:09 p.m.)

If Jon Corzine wins re-election, he can thank women, who gave him a narrow advantage and who voted at higher proportions than men did. Note the split among moderates and independents; independents, self-described, clearly were more conservative than moderates, which says something about the electorate, rather than, I think, the environment.

Marc Ambinder (7:51 p.m.)

Member Obama's Nobel Prize?  Conservatives chortled. But Bob McDonnell issued a sincere statement of congrats.  The guy ran a good campaign.

Marc Ambinder (7:30 p.m.)

As everyone's noting, the percentage of young voters dropped off substantially from 2008. What should be noted: young voter turnout is never high in off-off year elections. That's not where Creigh Deeds's problems originated from. Look at his standing among independents. True, independents tend to lean toward the out-party in these elections, but Deeds had a foothold with them before the summer.  Then the summer happened. The summer: GM bailed out. Unemployment spikes. Talk in Washington of a trillion dollar health care bill. Suddenly, independent men, in particular, began to orient themselves toward the basic Republican message: lower taxes, less government intervention, less spending.   Waiting to see the geographic cross-tabs, but I'm betting that, where there's a comparison to be made, you'll find that Deeds did much worse among suburban (Richmond and DC) independents, particularly men, particularly those over 45.

Marc Ambinder (6:10 p.m.)

So 25% of Virginians said health care was their top issue. A good chunk of those folks might have voted for the Republican. A Washington Post poll last week showed that health care priority voters were giving their support to the Democrat and the Republican almost evenly. Very rarely do Republicans turn out health care priority voters....

Marc Ambinder (6:05 p.m.)

The first round of exit polls come to us courtesy of my friends at CBS News. Please be sure to visit their website first!   First things first: even in a year when the composition of the electorate is dramatically different than the 2008 presidential election, President Obama's approval rating in Virginia is 51% among voters surveyed.  In New Jersey, it's 57%.  Fewer than half of voters for Bob McDonnell, the Republican gubernatorial candidate in VA, say they voted to send a message to Obama. About 38% of voters for Chris Christie, the New Jersey GOPer, tried to send a message, too. 38% of  CreighDeeds voters said their vote for the Democrat was to support Obama.

The big issues: the economy, to 46% of voters in Virginia. In New Jersey, it was the economy -- 31% , followed by property taxes (25%).  25% of voters in Virginia said health care was their top issue compared to 18% who said the same in New Jersey.

Marc Ambinder (5:31 p.m.)

Mark Kirk (R-IL) has got to be mighty nervous about the results tonight. Conservative Eric Wallace dropped out of the GOP primary for Illinois Senate today, all-but-promising to challenge Kirk as an Independent.  The first wedge: what does Kirk thing of Sarah Palin, who's coming to town on 11/16 to tape an Oprah appearance?

Marc Ambinder (5:26 p.m.)

Amy Fried of the University of Maine writes about ME -1, the marriage proposition in Maine:

A comparator race for the marriage vote this year is Question 1 - 2005.  This was the third people's veto to overturn a sexual orientation provison in the state anti-discrimination law.  The Maine legislature kept adding it and the Maine Christian Civic League kept mounting people's vetoes. They lost in 2005 rather substantially in an off-off year.  I think that if No on 1 wins this year, the margin would be tighter than in 2005 but it is still worth checking to see how this year's results are comparing since the patterns by town are likely to be similar.  

Marc Ambinder (5:21 p.m.)

To help explain what we might see tonight, here's a look at the electoral equation for Virginia.

A Change in the Composition Of The Electorate (a state where Party ID among likely voters shifts from a GOP advantage of 1-2% to 6-8%) 
PLUS
An Awful Summer For National Democrats, Thanks To Health Care And Bailout/Spending
PLUS
An Energized Republican Electorate Thanks To Health Care -- and NO bill to show them up
PLUS
An excellent, pitch-perfect Campaign By Republican Bob McDonnell
PLUS 
A huge money gap between Democrats and Republicans (including a massive Chamber of Commerce ad buy downstate, NRA ads, RGA ads (later in the game)
PLUS
Economic anxiety among older men and independents 45 years and older...
....

Marc Ambinder (5:12 p.m.)

Don't believe anecdotal turnout hints...only the Secretaries of State (and sometimes, not even those folks) have a handle on what's going on.

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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.

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