Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A couple of takes on the Election 2005 results

Full coverage here, but I have a couple of views here:

Virginia governor's race
Democrat Tim Kaine beat Republican Jerry Kilgore in a red state. Dems are crowing about this one, and they should. However, they should also read what was an important indicator here: Kaine actually put forward an agenda, and he didn't run from who he was.

Kaine is against the death penalty, a stance that he attributes to his Christian faith. Fair enough. Rather than try to run from it, deny it, or spin it, he stood firm on it. While I clearly disagree with his stance, I admire his backbone. It was refreshing to see a Democrat actually have convictions and not run on public opinion polls. Dems could learn a thing or two from this guy.

Also, his opponent Kilgore ran ads against Kaine's death penalty stance, saying that Kaine wouldn't even allow Hitler to be executed. Godwin's Law, people...once Kilgore did that, he rendered his own point of view impotent. No one likes or takes seriously people who gratuitously invoke Hitler's name for political points.

Keep in mind that in November 2001, Virginia elected Democrat Mark Warner as its governor, despite President Bush's 75%+ popularity rating at the time. It didn't translate into VA becoming a Democratic state, nor did Kerry come very close to winning in 2004. In other words, while it may be tempting for the left to think "Hey, a red state rejected the GOP gubernatorial candidate; therefore, they're in BIG trouble in 2006 and beyond" didn't help the Dems in 2002, did it? Saying that VA has suddenly gone liberal is like saying that because the last three governors of Mass. have been Republicans, MA has gone conservative!

Having said that, the GOP should use this opportunity to reflect on how to make its base (which is larger than the liberal base) happy by returning to fiscal restraint, immigration enforcement, and energy independence roots. Failure to do so will not bode well for them in 2006.

Also, Mark Warner has been pro-defense and a moderate on certain issues in VA. He's considering a White House run, and if he pulls it off and gets the party's nomination, he could be a big force to reckon with. However, knowing how inept the national Democratic Party is, they'll probably (a) ignore recent history (the last three elected Democrat presidents were all from the South: LBJ from TX, Carter from GA, and Bubba from AR); and (b) replace their 2004 Northeastern liberal presidential candidate (Kerry)...with a 2008 Northeastern liberal presidential candidate (Shrillary).

New Jersey governor's race
A Democrat won in New Jersey. Yawn! This is news? Dems always win in NJ (Christine Whitman notwithstanding). It's a blue state, people! This race never should have been close, and in the end, it wasn't.

California ballot initiatives
I won't get into all four of them, but in short, the Governator (Arnie) ran two years ago on a platform of reform, and he specifically mentioned these initiatives. He was elected by Californians who seemed eager for these (and other) reforms, yet when he went to actually implement them, the voters revolted.

I was puzzled by this, then I recalled how Bill Clinton ran in '92 on (among other things) getting gays in the military. He was elected, thinking that the electorate supported his social experiment with the military. Once he tried it, the backlash was palpable.

Moral of the story: just because you get elected doesn't mean that the electorate supports ALL of your ideas. Arnie just found that out.

The anti-Bush revolt
It didn't happen. From the AP story linked above:
Most voters said President Bush was not a factor in their choices Tuesday, according to the survey conducted Tuesday by the AP and its polling partner, Ipsos. The survey was based on interviews with 1,280 adults throughout New Jersey who said they voted in the governor's election.
Dems had a huge night, and there's no doubt about it. Rather than reading too much into it, they (and other politicians from all parties) need to learn the various lessons from it.

Dems: be open about who you are and for what you stand. Get some ideas, since "Bush sucks" isn't enough to get you back into power on a widespread basis.

GOP: get back to your roots, the ones that got you elected 11 years ago and have kept you in ever since. Don't cater as much to the religious message as to the economic and security message.

Independents: now is a good time to articulate a message, raise some capital, and broadly distribute your message to an electorate getting increasingly fed up with the two major parties.