As every media outlet and political website and blog have headlined, the GOP won two very telling victories on November 3rd. Bob McDonnell won the governors race in Virginia by 18% and Chris Christie won the New Jersey governors race by 5%*. The Christie victory, while still surprising, is not as cut and dry as it might appear. Christie is a moderate Republican, and Corzine was extremely unpopular in New Jersey. Nevertheless, both victories are sending shock waves through the political community and, hopefully, a message to all incumbents.
The reason that these two races have received so much attention is due to the fact that Obama carried both states in the 2008 election and had campaigned for both Democratic candidates. This could easily be viewed as a direct showing of disapproval of the Obama administration and democratic congressional policies. The sway Obama and the democrats seemed to have over both states appears to have faltered but the GOP should only look at this as a small stepping stone going into the 2010 elections and even Republican incumbents should be paying attention.
When the Democrats took control of both the House and the Senate in 2006, a Democratic political adviser warned on CNN that the majority of the country still leans fiscally conservative, and that the newly elected Democrats would be wise to keep this in mind if they want to remain in office. He went on to say, that prior to 2006, the Republicans in power had drifted away fiscally conservative principles. Their constituents were unhappy and it showed at the polls. This remains true today and the two governors races might just be a warning to all incumbents that listening to the electorate is job one.
The current congress has one of the lowest approval rating in history. The amazing thing about this statistic is that their approval rating is about the same now as it was in 2005. So despite the Democrats winning the majority in 2006 and taking even more seats and the presidency in 2008, Americans are still unhappy with the job that congress is doing. This has always been a hard concept to grasp considering that Americans can simply "vote out" who they are unhappy with. Apparently the overwhelming belief held by citizens has been one of being somewhat satisfied with their personal representative and not as pleased with those from other districts or states. This unfortunate trend seems to be fading. As of right now, both the senate majority leader and the Speaker of the House are experiencing problems on the home front. Pelosi's approval ratings have dropped significantly as have Harry Reid's. And although Pelosi's district may be a lost cause to conservatives, Reid's position could very well be up for grabs in 2010.
The American political system is supposed to be a relatively simple concept. A given district or state elects an individual to speak on their behalf. Now, as seen in the stimulus, health care and cap and trade bills, this does not always occur. When the so called "blue dog democrats" were holding out on the health care vote, due to discourse from their respective constituencies, Pelosi and Reid held closed door meetings with the holdouts. In these meetings the "blue dogs" were basically told that if they wanted any kind of future in the democratic party, including appointments to any important committees, then they should drop their objections. This is by no means a new trick, nor is it one that is party exculsive, and it worked at the time. However, on November 4th, not even 24 hours after the election, Reid himself stated that he did not believe that health care would be passed this year like the president had wanted. Before the election, some thought that a vote could come as early as November 5th. Many politicians are rethinking being linked to a bill that, so far, is wildly unpopular with the majority of people. This is also the reason that cap and trade has floundered thusfar. Not many people in congress want to explain to their electorate why they voted for a bill that is guaranteed to raise their energy costs, especially in a recession. Being guaranteed a future in any party by party leaders is worthless if you are bound to lose the next election. Hopefully this election has shown politicians on both sides of the aisle that their sole purpose is to do as their constituents would have them do. Otherwise, these constituents have shown that they will find someone who will.
*According to the AP