Election night is over and in case you weren’t glued to the screen watching the returns, I got you covered.
There were a number of big races Tuesday and important ballot questions that not only have local impact, but national implications. The biggest races were in New Jersey, New York City, and Virginia, with important ballot questions in Washington and Maine. Let’s get right to it.
The first storyline you’re going to hear a lot about: Chris Christie for President. He won with a big margin in New Jersey (garnering 60% of the vote at time of writing) and the pundits are already speculating on what his win means for the future of the GOP and Christie’s own presidential ambitions. He’s an unusual Republican. Christie doesn’t oppose same-sex marriage in the state and is considered more moderate, much more moderate, than the Tea Party wing. His win in New Jersey, a “blue state,” will fuel the debate over whether he represents the future of the GOP and offers them a path to winning the presidency — expect the speculation to continue.
The other big plot line comes out of Virginia. Terry McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, eked it out against the Republican challenger Ken Cuccinelli. Pundits like Newt Gingrich and Bill Kristol (obvious partisans) took to the airwaves to proclaim that Cuccinelli drew close because he hammered on Obamacare in the final weeks of the campaign, proving the salience of the issue with voters. Indeed, in exit polls, 45% of Virginians supported Obamacare and 53% opposed. Meanwhile, Democratic pundits proclaimed that McAuliffe’s win in Virginia, considered by many a “bellweather state,” proves the national mood favors Democrats. Among voters 18-29 years of age in VA, Terry McAuliffe beat Ken Cuccinelli 45% to 39%. It’s important to note that McAuliffe heavily outspent his opponent (with the help of donors like Mike Bloomberg). What the Virginia races says about national politics … it’s hard to say for sure, but it certainly has a big effect on Virginians.
Then there was Bill de Blasio’s easy victory in NYC over Republican Joe Lhota. It wasn’t but moments after the polls officially closed at 9 p.m. EST that he was declared the winner. Early reports showed low turnout in the city, suggesting there was a significant enthusiasm gap for the next NYC mayor. One of the most significant knocks against de Blasio, is does he really have the experience necessary to manage a $70 billion budget? Well, we’ll find out, along with whether his more liberal ideas for the city play well post election.
Finally, a few ballot initiatives you’re going to be hearing a lot about that broke in a liberal direction. In Portland, ME, city residents voted to legalize marijuana. In Washington State, residents voted on whether to require GMO labeling on foods. And finally, back in New Jersey, residents voted to raise the minimum wage by $1 to $8.25. Each of these initiatives has national implications and they, perhaps more than the races for office, will be a weather vane for national trends.
Phew. It was no 2012, but the 2014 midterms are right around the corner....