In yesterday’s elections, two states that voted for Barack Obama elected Republican governors and Maine voters repealed in a referendum that state’s previously passed approval of gay marriage. The only bright spot for Democrats was in New York, where they picked up a previously Republican congressional district, turning back a conservative insurgent who drove the Republican out of the race.
What do the Republican victories mean? It isn’t necessary to see them as a repudiation of President Obama for these elections to have big political consequences.
Virginia’s Republican landslide will put the blue dog Southern Democrats on notice that their constituencies may turn against them very quickly if they perceive them as too liberal. This can only have an inhibiting effect on their support for controversial liberal proposals, such as health care reform.
The Republican win in New Jersey shows that even liberal Democrats in an overwhelmingly liberal Democratic state will not tolerate corruption, constantly rising taxes, and administrative ineptness and are capable of turning against the party and electing a Republican. This sends a message to Democrats that they can take nothing for granted, and it sends a message to both parties that they had better have competent candidates who can do a good job in the offices to which they are elected.