Posted on November 3, 2009. Filed under: News And Politics... |

Republican Governor-elect Bob McDonnell’s victory in Virginia over Democrat R. Creigh Deeds was a triumph for a GOP looking to rebuild after being booted from power in national elections in 2006 and 2008.  Are voters starting to turn against the Democrats?  One can only hope.  Obama, who held a rally for Deeds at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, didn’t sway the voters with his fading powers either.  In New Jersey, exit polls showed Corzine locked in a close race, with independents heavily favoring his Republican challenger Chris Christie in a three-way contest with independent Chris Daggett.  McDonnell seems to be the lesser of two evils here since there’s slim pickings when it comes to good political candidates with morals and values, which are non-existent in the political arena.
Looks like Mr. Deeds isn’t going to town as Virginia’s governor…
Republican Wins Virginia Governor Race
November 4, 2009
New York Times
By Ian Urbina

Robert F. McDonnell, a Republican and a former state attorney general, won a decisive victory in Virginia’s governor’s race Tuesday, a stark reversal of fortune for Democrats who have held control in Richmond for the past eight years.

Mr. McDonnell defeated the Democratic candidate, R. Creigh Deeds, an 18-year state senator from rural Bath County in western Virginia.

Republicans cited the victory as a repudiation of the Obama administration and the national Democratic Party’s agenda, especially that of outgoing Gov. Tim Kaine, who serves as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Nonetheless, exit polls conducted by Edison Research on Tuesday showed that support for Mr. Obama had changed little in the state since his victory here in 2008. The polls suggested that many of Mr. Obama’s voters stayed home on Tuesday, allowing Mr. McDonnell to win on strong support among white men and independents and among voters who say they are very worried about the direction of the nation’s economy.

Voters also went to the polls Tuesday to decide a closely contested race for governor in New Jersey, as well as a Congressional race in upstate New York that has been seen as a test of hard-line conservatives who are seeking to oppose or unseat moderate Republican candidates in next year’s elections. Mayoral races were taking place in several major cities, including New York, where Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is seeking a third term, and Atlanta, where there was a possibility that a white mayor would be elected for the first time in decades. Maine was holding a referendum on whether to ban same-sex marriage.

While the Virginia race garnered national attention, both candidates tried to focus more on local issues, like jobs, taxes and road improvements.

Mr. McDonnell, 55, who went into Election Day with a double-digit lead in the polls, is a social and fiscal conservative, but ran on a more centrist platform that appealed to suburban voters. At the same time, Mr. Deeds, 51, had a difficult time introducing himself to densely populated Northern Virginia.

While a sour economy and anxiety over Mr. Obama’s health care proposals presented Mr. Deeds with an uphill fight, the Republicans made inroads with constituencies that Mr. Deeds had hoped he could count on.

In recent statewide elections, Democrats have won by securing about 60 percent of the vote in Northern Virginia, mainly the affluent suburbs of Washington. Democrats had hoped that by highlighting Mr. Deeds’s rural downstate roots, they would draw in new voters to build on their strength in the northern part of the state.

Mr. McDonnell — though actually quite conservative, having opposed abortion rights, gun control and increased taxes — focused on appealing to moderates and independents. His campaign avoided divisive social issues, and instead highlighted his ideas to create jobs, improve the economy, and fix the state’s transportation woes. He regularly emphasized that 90 percent of the legislation he proposed as attorney general passed the General Assembly with strong bipartisan support.

Voters in Northern Virginia also seemed to respond positively to Mr. McDonnell’s sophistication and polish in a way that they did not to Mr. Deeds’s self-deprecating demeanor and southern drawl.

Mr. McDonnell was careful to keep his distance from the further right end of his party. When the conservative activist Ralph Reed sponsored robo-calls to voters featuring former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska asking them to vote their values, Mr. McDonnell’s campaign declined to answer questions about the calls and emphasized that the campaign had not asked Ms. Palin to make them.

The Republicans also undercut some of Mr. Deeds’ support in the state’s rural, more conservative swaths by attacking him for supporting a tax increase to pay for road improvements.

Early in his campaign, Mr. Deeds had hoped to paint McDonnell as a radical conservative by publicizing Mr. McDonnell’s 1989 master’s thesis, which roundly criticized working women and single mothers. The strategy failed, pollsters concluded, as voters found those advertisements too negative.

About 6 in 10 voters said in exit polls Tuesday that the master’s thesis had no effect on their vote. The polls showed that Mr. McDonnell had strong support among men, and ran closely with Mr. Deeds among women.

Republicans were hopeful that Mr. McDonnell’s coattails would also allow them to increase their majority in the state’s House of Delegates, where all 100 seats were up for election. Republicans now hold 53 seats, and some political experts said the party might be able to extend its majority to around 60 seats, which will help it control the 2011 redistricting. Republicans were also hoping to win Tuesday’s races for lieutenant governor and attorney general.

The Virginia Senate, which is up for re-election in 2011, still has a 21 to 19 Democratic majority, which could pose problems for Mr. McDonnell’s agenda.

Democrats fought hard to avoid a rout on Tuesday. Though the Obama administration initially expressed quiet reservations about Mr. Deeds, the president campaigned twice for him, helped him raise money, appeared in his advertisements and extended the support of his political campaign arm, Organizing for America.

Mr. Kaine also campaigned for Mr. Deeds, and, through the Democratic National Committee, put more than $6 million behind his candidacy.

Republicans insisted that Tuesday’s results represented a significant shift in national political sentiments from the 2008 vote.

“Virginia can be seen as a true bellwether or a mini-national election,” said Michael S. Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, who campaigned vigorously for Mr. McDonnell and pumped more than $9 million into the race.

“Obama carried Virginia by seven points and Republicans have lost the last two gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races here,” Mr. Steele said. “But it’s also a place where we see that when a Republican, like Bob McDonnell, runs on positive, common-sense conservative ideas, we can win tough elections.”

Nevertheless, some of the factors that played a role in Mr. McDonnell’s victory might not reflect a larger shift in the state when it comes to national politics.

In 2008, 53 percent of voters backed Mr. Obama, and exit polls on Tuesday showed that 52 percent of voters approved of his performance.

As predicted, minority voters and young voters turned out in far fewer numbers on Tuesday than they did in 2008 for the presidential election. While about 20 percent of the electorate in 2008 was black, exit polls showed that number fell to 15 percent on Tuesday.

“Virginia is probably turning red today because turnout is well down, and the smaller voting population is among the most Republican in modern times,” said Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia. “But if Obama can pull out his large turnout again in 2012, and the economy has clearly improved, Virginia could be blue once more.”

The exit polls showed that more than 8 in 10 voters are worried about the direction of the country’s economy in the next year, including half who said they were very worried. The economy and unemployment were the most important issues in the election to nearly half of voters, far outstripping health care, taxes or transportation. Most voters who said the economy was their top issue backed Mr. McDonnell.

One of Mr. McDonnell’s first jobs when he takes office will probably be to propose deep cuts in state spending to deal with a $1 billion budget shortfall caused by the recession, declining state revenues and the state’s growing Medicaid payments.



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