This morning, I don’t entirely understand the crowing and chest-beating from ultra-conservatives, nor the smattering of headlines re: a “wake-up call” for, or “warning” to, Democrats.
Sure, governors might comment on federal policy, and they might some day run for federal office. But while governors are governors, they don’t cast votes in the Chambers of Congress on a President’s agenda. What’s more, Virginia’s history suggests that the “fluke” was not last night’s victory for GOP Governor-elect McDonnell, but President Obama’s win there last year. And in N.J., well, it seems no amount of life support from the White House (or God for that matter) would have helped the increasingly “unpopular” Gov. Corzine.
In contrast, Members of Congress get to actually vote on a President’s agenda — and in an area of New York State that has been a GOP stronghold for a century-and-a-half — a Democrat won, and he won after ultra-conservatives from around the country poured mega-dollars and mega-endorsements into their chosen candidate.
All that being said, we certainly do not need off-year election results to know that President Obama is not as widely loved as he was earlier this year, or to devine the unpopularity of the Democratic Congressional leadership among substantial swaths of the electorate. And that’s why the man-bites-dog news here is not about two victorious GOP candidates for Governor, but the massive upset in NY-23 of the ideologically “pure-or-nothing” conservative fringe.
UPDATE: John Cole reaches essentially the same conclusion.