Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Election 09

The results from this year's elections are in, and the result is basically a draw. Two governor's mansions currently held by Democrats were won by Republicans, the Democrats won both of the special elections for Congressional seats, and the fight for marriage equality spilt between a narrow defeat in Maine and a narrow victory in Washington State.

This was not a referendum on President Obama or the national Democratic Party. The two federal elections were both won by Democrats. In the 23rd district of New York, a place that has been electing Republicans to Congress since U.S. Grant was a national figure, Democrat Bill Owens defeated the tea-bagger candidate.

In Virgina, Republican Bob McDonald defeated Democrat Creigh Deeds by running away from his hard right record, and getting an assist from Deed's tepid campaign. Of the two, Deeds was one whose campaign went to great lengths to distance itself from Obama. In New Jersey, Republican Chris Christie defeated incumbent Democrat John Corzine. While New Jersey is a state that usually votes for Democrats, Christy Todd Whitman was a recent popular GOP governor. Corzine was done id by a combination of a trouble economy, budget difficulties, and ties to Wall Street firms(a combination that almost did in the more popular New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg).

The national political dynamics that placed Barack Obama and his governing coalition in office are still the same. Both of the Republicans who won did so based on local issues and Christie explicitly used Obama in a campaign ad. In both of the elections for federal office, where federal issues are important, the Democrat won.

Granted, a tie is not a victory and it does not feel like one. The biggest reason is the marriage equality loss in Maine. While it is a deeply disappointing loss, I can see something of a silver lining. I realize also that it is easy for me say this. However, I believe that time is on the side of equality even though there will be more disappointing days between now and then.

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