A quick survey of the print and web punditospheres reveals Democrats chin-pulling about the mixed message of last night's events, or wanly saying that this wasn't a referendum on Obama. Meanwhile conservatives are mostly crowing--even, somewhat delusionally, about pushing Scozzafava out in NY-23. From which I mote that progressives took the worst body blow--though if conservatives continue perkily believing that intraparty warfare is the surest route to success . . . well, welcome to Barack Obama's second term.
Still, the more I mull the "this wasn't a referendum on Obama" message, the more I wonder why Democrats are celebrating this. It's kind of a problem that this election wasn't a referendum on Obama, or more importantly, on Bush. Obama's coattails are supposed to give them the spine they need to enact sweeping change. The bad news of last night wasn't that they lost the New Jersey governorship. It's that the era of running against George Bush, or for Barack Obama, is over. They just lost the two best campaign planks they've had in decades.
Update: Senior Congressional Democrats told ABC News today that there would likely be no health care bill in 2009. I think that might answer the question.