It’s no secret that Election Days have been disappointing for Republicans in the last three years. But yesterday’s victories for Bob McDonnell in Virginia and Chris Christie in New Jersey finally changed that trend and affirmed an emerging new narrative for the Republican Party.
Just one year after Barack Obama swept the electoral map in 2008, independent-minded voters in blue and purple states rejected the Democrats’ tax and spend agenda, and reminded us that they are looking to restore much-needed checks and balances to government.
How far we’ve come in 12 months.
Just one year ago, then-candidate Barack Obama ran an historic campaign on the promise to bring a new era of “change” and “transparency” to Washington. Not surprisingly, he overwhelmingly won traditionally Democrat states like New Jersey in 2008. Notably, Obama also swept purple states like Virginia – a one-time red state that had not voted for a Democrat presidential candidate in more than 40 years.
But 12 months later, not even Obama’s high-flying rhetoric, copycat campaign logos, or hand-picked incumbent Virginia Governor-turned DNC Chairman Tim Kaine could recreate the same outcome for Creigh Deeds’ campaign. Instead, national Democrats began to distance themselves from Deeds long before Election Day, criticizing his campaign behind the scenes in an effort to mitigate the damage to the President’s short coattails.
Unlike Virginia, history suggests the Governor’s race in New Jersey – a state that Obama carried by 20 points – should have been a breeze for incumbent Jon Corzine and the Democrats to reclaim in 2009. The last time New Jersey elected a Republican Governor was 1997, and with strong Democratic Party identification and enormous campaign support from the White House and the national Democrat apparatus, Republican Chris Christie’s candidacy in this blue state was considered a long shot by many.
Yet one day before the election, the race between Corzine and Christie was too close to call. Christie’s victory yesterday was a clear referendum on the Obama-Corzine economic policies, and a rejection of the higher taxes and increased spending that both Democrats support. Despite Corzine’s aggressive and personal attack advertisements, voters in the Garden State said “enough is enough” and elected a candidate in favor of lower taxes and smaller government.
The dynamics in these races are unique unto themselves, but the common denominator in these states is that independent-minded voters rejected the Democrats’ super-majority in Washington and elected candidates who made fiscal responsibility a key mantra of their campaigns.
Watching their party hemorrhage independent voters should send shivers down the spines of Democrat strategists as they look ahead to Senate elections next year in states like New Hampshire.
As he attempts to convince voters in New Hampshire he deserves a promotion to the Senate, Paul Hodes has wrapped himself in the Obama administration’s big-government, tax-and-spend agenda, which was soundly rejected by voters in two different states last night. What appeared to be a sound strategy at the beginning of the year now seems more of a political liability, and Hodes faces the unpleasant task of either completely recalibrating his campaign narrative or suffering a similar fate to last night’s losers when he faces New Hampshire voters a year from now.
As Time Magazine noted this week, Bob McDonnell won independents in Virginia by relentlessly focusing the central message of his campaign on the economy and growing jobs, giving “Republicans a blueprint for success.”
We must continue to step forward and offer positive common-sense alternatives to strengthen the economy, grow jobs here at home, and reform our health care system in a way that lowers premiums instead of driving up taxes. We must also continue to stand firm on fiscal responsibility and against the big government, big spending proposals put forward by the Democrats who have been treating the federal treasury as their own personal credit card.
It’s not just a message that clearly resonates with voters; it’s the right thing to do for our country’s future.
Yesterday, we saw Americans stand up and take the first step toward restoring government accountability and renewing the checks and balances that they deserve in Washington.