The Washington Times reports that Republicans hope for a big three-state sweep today — two governor’s seats and a special election for Congress. They actually leave one race out, a California special election to replace Ellen Tauscher in Congress, which the GOP has almost no hope of winning. However, an East Coast sweep would definitely send a message to Democrats ahead of next year’s midterms and this year’s votes on their radical Congressional agenda — and perhaps to a few Republicans as well:
Voters on Monday prepared to cast ballots in the first major elections since President Obama took office, offering a glimpse into how they think the president and his party have handled issues such as health care and the economy.
Republicans and their conservative allies were buoyed by late polls showing they could sweep the three biggest electoral prizes of 2009: the Virginia and New Jersey governors’ mansions and New York’s 23rd Congressional District seat.
Republican Robert F. McDonnell held a comfortable lead over Democrat R. Creigh Deeds in Virginia’s gubernatorial race with polls stoking Republican hopes of securing the top three jobs in the state for the first time since 1997.
Polling showed Mr. McDonnell had made steady gains in the final weeks among those who identified themselves as Republicans and independents while substantially cutting into the Democratic advantage in Northern Virginia, which helped Mr. Obama capture the state last year and awarded the governorship to now-Sen. Mark R. Warner in 2001 and Gov. Tim Kaine in 2005.
The California race pits statewide-election winner John Garamendi against relative unknown David Harmer in a district that went for Barack Obama by more than 20 points. It borders Nancy Pelosi’s district, and Tauscher was no centrist. The race has the same impact as NY-23 does in determining the size of Pelosi’s caucus, but it has gotten no media play simply because it looks like such a walkover. In a special election, anything can happen — but it’s hard to imagine that the Republicans can outorganize the Democrats in this race. If they do, that would send a big message to Congress: no one’s seat is safe next year.
Of the four races, only Virginia looks like a lock. Creigh Deeds ran against a 20-year-old college thesis and lost miserably. Bob McDonnell’s easy sail to victory threatens to put Virginia back in the red-state column, but it could also just indicate what a terrible candidate Deeds has been. If Virginia elects a Republican to Congress in 2012, we may be seeing a real shift, one the GOP desperately needs.
NY-23 is shaping up to be a Republican win … in a district that Democrats haven’t won in over 110 years. The only reason it’s in play is because of the foolishness of local GOP leaders, who handpicked a terrible candidate for the special election. A win by Douglas Hoffman will certainly energize the conservative grassroots, but either way, this race has made fools of the GOP establishment.
New Jersey would be a real coup for Republicans, for two reasons. First, New Jersey is solidly Democratic, but unhappy. The GOP needs an entree back into power to demonstrate how center-right governance will benefit the state and its citizens. Despite being outspent by Jon Corzine and a false-flag third-party candidate, Chris Christie is within sight of victory in the Garden State. The second reason is that Barack Obama poured himself into the Corzine campaign, practically taking it over in the final weeks. A loss here would be a big blow to his prestige and a warning about the limits of his coattails in 2010. If Obama can’t hold New Jersey, then all bets are off in Congress for the midterms and Obama’s radical domestic policy agenda.
If Christie wins, of course. Nothing is certain and few lessons can be applied until the GOP actually wins — and New Jersey and New York are not locks. I’ll predict wins across the board for the GOP on the East Coast, and a fifteen-point Garamendi win in California that will be an afterthought.
Update: If any Hot Air readers are on the ground in NY-23, drop me a line to let me know what you see.