A year after Barack Obama’s big election win, Republicans turned the tables in Election 2009, winning the Governor’s races in Virginia and New Jersey, and raising questions about next year’s important Congressional elections.
It was much like 1993, when Republicans capitalized on controversy surrounding Bill Clinton’s policies, as they won the same two races. A year later, the GOP won big, capturing control of the Congress in the Republican Revolution of 1994.
Will 2010 be the same? That’s impossible to answer right now, but some of the poll data from Tuesday gives us a clear look at why the GOP did so well this year.
First, independents swung back to the GOP. Last year, they broke overwhelmingly for Obama. This year, it was Advantage GOP.
Basically, the independent voters went 2-to-1 for the Republican in both of those states.
The second important indicator was turnout. Without Obama on the ballot, Democrats couldn’t match their record voter turnout of 2008, and they suffered as a result. Meanwhile, GOP voters were much more inspired, and so they came to the polls in larger numbers.
While the White House tried to downplay any importance from those two races, it was hard to ignore their involvement in the campaigns.
President Obama had stumped for votes in both states in recent weeks – including going to New Jersey just before Election Day – so it’s a bit hard to say that the losses in Virginia and New Jersey don’t matter.
The results in Virginia though followed what’s become a rule for the Governor’s election, where the party that won the last election for the White House then loses the Old Dominion Governor’s race a year later.
That trend began when Republicans won in 1977, a year after Jimmy Carter’s win, and it repeated in 1981, ’85, ’89, ’93, ’97, 2001, ’05 and ’09.
So the question is pretty simple – is this the tip of a big electoral wave next year for the GOP?
Or is this just two “isolated” campaign losses for the Democrats?