TDS Co-Editor Ruy Teixeira’s op-ed in The New York Times provides one of the better antidotes for all of the hyper-ventillating about Republicans winning the governorships of VA and NJ. From Teixeira’s chill-pill:
Start with the predictive value of the Virginia and New Jersey victories: there is none. Sometimes the party that wins both those governorships gains seats in the next Congressional election; sometimes that party loses seats. Far more consequential is the historical pattern that the new president’s party tends to lose seats in the first midterm election. Once that is taken into account, as the political scientist Alan Abramowitz of Emory University has shown, victories in Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races tell you nothing about who will gain seats in 2010 or how large that gain will be.
Teixeira shreds the GOP’s “Obama was repudiated” meme, noting,
In New Jersey…it’s significant that Mr. Obama’s approval rating among 2009 voters (57 percent) was identical to the percent of the vote he received there in 2008. In Virginia, while the president’s 2009 approval rating was 5 points less than his 2008 voting result, the 2009 electorate was also far more conservative than last year’s. Besides being far older and whiter than in 2008, the voters in Virginia on Tuesday said they had supported John McCain last November by 8 points, meaning they were not favorably inclined toward President Obama to begin with. In fact, given that only 43 percent of these voters said they supported Mr. Obama last November, his 48 percent approval rating among them does not indicate a shift away from him but rather toward him.
Teixeira also points out that the GOP defeat NY-23 — one of the most staunchly conservative districts in America –provides a grim omen for a party that is now dominated by conservatives, and especially for “those in the party seeking to emulate the electoral strategies of Bob McDonnell in Virginia and Chris Christie in New Jersey,” both of whom tried to “cover up the conservatism of their views” on key issues. “That was relatively easy to do in governors’ races in an off-year election,” says Teixeira. “It will be harder for candidates to do in national elections in 2010 and especially 2012.”