Lessons From Virginia

Some smart observations from Larry Sabato:

Democratic National Committee Chairman and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine is also high up on the list of losers. He presided over an electoral debacle in his own state. Unlike his predecessor, Gov. Mark Warner, he failed to prepare the way for a Democratic successor in Richmond and probably made a serious mistake in becoming chairman at all. It took him out of state too much and made him a partisan rather than a unifying figure. National ambitions have tripped up four of the last five Virginia governors. When you only have one four-year term, maybe the voters expect you to take care of business at home. Bob McDonnell might want to remember that when he is touted for the 2012 national GOP ticket. 

Turnout played a huge role in the outcomes in both NJ and VA, with Republicans showing up in droves and Democrats going fishing, at least to some degree. In Virginia, one result of absentee Democrats was the lowest voter turnout for a gubernatorial election in the state's modern two-party history (1969 to 2009). The 2009 turnout of 39.8 percent of the registered voters was the lowest in forty years. Even with all the population growth since 2005, the absolute voter turnout in 2009 (1.97 million) fell below that of four years ago (2.0 million). And the electorate was barely more than half that of 2008 (3.7 million). Astounding.