04 November 2009

The Quarter-Term Elections

For those of you who don't follow politics, as I'm sure many of you do not, yesterday was Election Day for the mid-midterm elections and special elections from around the country. There were a few interesting races, made even more interesting after the votes were tallied.

In Virginia, Bob McDonnell (R) beat R. Creigh Deeds, a Democrat, by a margin of 18% to become the first Republican governor of that state in eight years. In New Jersey, Republican Chris Christie defeated incumbent Governor Jon Corzine by 5% to take that state's top job.

These two races matter mostly because they seem to be indicative of not only the political sentiments in the New England area, but also because they are a sort of referendum of the job President Obama is doing. Of course, it's very difficult to say one way or another whether this is a microcosm of the way the whole country feels, given that it's a political off-year, and the sample size represents only two out of 100 states, but the very fact that two Republicans defeated two Democrats - one an incumbent governor - in typically-blue New England in races for which the President made robo-calls and campaigned in both states on behalf of the Democrats shows just how weakened the President's power has become in recent days. Given that Obama decisively won both states and split Independent voters in 2008, the dramatic switch to right-leaning Independent voting patterns is telling. It will be very interesting to see how the President responds in the next year leading up to the 2010 midterm elections, and whether that provides a clearer picture of the political spectrum of the American voter.

Other important races around the country did get shunted to the side in the media reporting of the two gubernatorial races. Here's a breakdown:

NY-23 Congressional Race: This one was particularly interesting because the Republican candidate in the race (Dierdre Scozzafava) dropped out just a few days ago due to wilting support, and supported the DEMOCRATIC candidate over the Conservative Party candidate, Doug Hoffman. If I'm correct, this represents the first true showing of the schism between the libertarian-leaning GOP and the "moderate" GOP. The Tea Party-type conservative members, who are really much closer to anarchists than conservatives, have been stirring the political pot lately in response to the socialist tendencies of the current Congress and White House. This makes sense: when one party goes to an extreme, the other must become more extremist to balance it out. The GOP started it with the neoconservative ideology of President George W. Bush in 2000, and the country as a whole after 2004 pushed back so hard that it made it possible for an ultra-liberal extremist like Barack Obama (or even Hillary Clinton, had she won the nomination) to beat out another neoconservative like John McCain. In response, ultra-conservative groups and candidates have been springing up to counteract that shift in ideology. Strangely, perhaps even ironically, it's probably going to take a revolution, as the ultra-conservatives like the Ron Paul Revolutionists and the Tea Party activists suggest, to bring the country back to the middle.

NYC Mayor: No big surprise, Michael Bloomberg won another term as Mayor, easily defeating William Thompson by 50,000 votes.

CA-10 Congressional: Another big surprise - Democrat John Garamendi won the seat 53%-42% over Republican David Harmer.

Maine Gay Marriage Repeal: Voters in Maine agreed to reject the existing law that allows same-sex couples to marry in the state, and allows religious groups and individuals to refuse to marry same-sex couples if they choose. It's a setback for gay-rights activists, but with the trend of the country to be more accepting of gay issues, I would imagine this repeal will eventually be repealed itself in the near future.

Maine Medical Marijuana: Voters approved a measure to expand medical marijuana usage and coverage to more treatment plans, and to create a regulatory system to oversee distribution.

Washington Domestic Partnerships: With 51% of precincts reporting as of this writing, the vote stands at 51%-49% in favor of allowing domestic partnerships with all the rights and responsbilities of marriage, without calling their living arrangement a marriage.

Here in Arizona, I cast my ballot on exactly one question: extending an already-existing tax of $0.79 per $100.00 on property to continue to fund the Mesa Unified School District #4. I parked, drew my line, got my sticker, and went home. Seriously, voting isn't supposed to be that simple! How did I vote on the tax extension? I'm not telling, but whether I voted for it or against it, it did pass by a considerable margin, so property owners, be prepared to pay the same amount in MUSD taxes as you have been for the last decade.

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