Aftermath

It was a helluva day at the polls yesterday all around the country, and your good ol’ buddy M is here to help make sense of it all.

I’ll leave the PA politics to Goose, Fester, and Artie, but elsewhere in the nation, we see the reelection of the popular Mayer Bloomberg (R) up in NYC. Meanwhile, across the border in Joizey, Senator Corzine is trading up his Sen. title for Governor. Further down South, Tim Kaine won the Governor’s seat of Virginia by a surprising margin, though he won’t be joined in Richmond by running mate Byrnes. In both Ohio and California similar measures that would relocate power away from state legislatures were defeated. The twist here is that in Ohio, the measure was backed by liberals, while in California, the proposal was one of four propositions put for by GOP Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. As for the homosexual community, they “break even” as they suffer a defeat in Texas (an ammendment was passed that banned gay marriage), but picked up a bit of a victory up North in Maine (where voters voted to keep in place a law to prevent discrimination based upon sexual orientation).

Overall, we can see some big picture items here.

On the left, there seems to me to be a kind of euphoric glee as many pundits and bloggers seem to think yesterday was a HUGE victory for the Democratic party, and will most likely prove prophetic for 06. On the right, however, what I’m picking up is a big, “don’t cout your chickens,” vibe. Me? I’m gonna play man in the middle here.

Don’t get me wrong, yesterday the Democrats, moderates, centrists, and left of centrists had a real good day, but, we’re not out of the woods. Hell, we just barely go into the woods. You call those trees? Son, you ain’t seen trees yet. The fact of the matter is that we won some key races, but there’s gonna be a lot at stake come this time next year, and then it’s just a hop skip and a jump to 08 where the big money is on the table, and believe you me, there is a lot of work to be done between here and there.

For the winners in yesterday’s election, congratulations on your respective victories. But now it’s time to get to work as there is a lot riding on you. The key here is that the newly elected Democratic officials, in order to fully take advantage of these wins, you have to understand that you are now under the microscope. You need to govern solidly, smartly, and successfully. This way we can aboid the “don’t blame me, I voted for Kilgore” bumper sticker effect. Remember how often I touted how important the Kaine election was? The election was only half the battle. The other half of the battle is that Tim Kaine needs to govern just as well, if not better than Mark Warner. It just needs to happen.

As for future races, the DNC has to be very deliberate in it’s candidate choices. As we head into 06, we need to ensure that we are putting up engaging and intelligent candidates who are solid on the issues, and solid in a debate. I know this may seem obvious, but sometimes in the world of politics, you never know.

Another trend that I’m beginning to pick up is that after all these years of people complaining about mudslinging, this time around, we see voters actually voting against the negative campaigns. While it’s a little early to gain empirical data on the subject, interviews, online polling, and anecdotal evidence leads me to believe that the number one reason for Republican voters voting against GOP candidates was the negativity of Kilgore’s campaign. Likewise, the chatter I’m catching is that the NJ GOP raked Corzine over the coals, and yet he navigated the gauntlet and still came up with the big W (that’s win, not POTUS). Is this the end of Rovian politics? Hardly, but what this does show us is that the politics of personal destruction can be fought. We’ll come back to this.

I want to now take a minute or several to focus on a few things that I think are important, and that you will do well to pay attention to.

On the other side of the country, Arnie put up four propositions, and put up a whole boatload of taxpayer cash to hold the special election for Californians to vote on them. Now, I guess, technically a lot of people are calling this a Dem win. Me? I’ve read a couple of the props and I think if the more detailed versions were styled to my liking, I might have voted for them, but that’s me. The fact is, I hesitate to declare this a Democratic win. The Dems have no real net positive outcome, merely the defeat of some proposals. But I do agree with the punditry when they say that this does not bode well for the governator. Still, this is the bottom line, yes, Arnie took a blow, but as the incubent, it’s still his game to lose, and he can take steps to recover from the damage done. My first bit of advice? Don’t claim to be socially conservative and that you’ll fix the economy and then spend millions of dollars on a special election to try and prove you’ve got clout.

Texas? Did you really expect them to not eventually ban gay marriage? Okay, good, let’s move on.

And of course, I’m going to really hone in on the Kaine campaign. The Kaine campaign followed a pretty simple, yet effective formula. Tout your accomplishments; Avoid going negative; Answer ALL THE NEGATIVE CHARGES EARLY AND DEFINITIVELY; and be informed on the issues. To be honest, I do think Kaine lucked out a little as Pott’s was largely kept from the limelight. The little I’ve heard from Pott’s, he would have been a much more competitive opponent than Kilgore.

But on the whole, I truly think that Kaine serves as a decent model for what our 06 candidates should look like. Smart, versed on the issues, positive, and willing to answer the charges of personal destruction politics.

Kilgore on the other hand was a cookie cutter Bush type Republican, and one thing that his loss shows us is that the Bush style politician is in dire straights. Case in point, if his negativity is the number one reason why voters crossed party lines to elect Kaine, I would go so far as to say that reason two is the last minute Bush endorsement.

To further our theory that there may be an end in sight to the successfulness of negative politics, the other two on the Democratic ticket who ran much more negative campaigns were not as successful as Tim Kaine. Byrnes was soundly beaten (which may result in problems for Kaine as he now has a Republican Lt. Governor), and while the Creigh Deeds race is still too close to call, there is currently still a razor thin advantage to his opponent.

So let’s do a recap:

-We had a good day yesterday, but there is still MUCH work to do.

-Our new Democrats in office need to kick ass while in office.

-Our 06 candidates need to be smart, well versed, and engaging, possibly using Kaine’s campaign formula of positivity as a template.

-The Texan, and NYC elections are relatively insignificant as far as impact on politics in the future.

-Arnie’s in trouble, but can recover.

-The Bushie’s are in trouble, and may find that they have a harder road to travel than Arnie.

-After last night’s anticipation, and picking up another bug today, I’m tired and need to rest now.

There’s a lot here folks, and I hope you really study what took place yesterday because there really is a huge bearing on 06 and 08 here. The catch all here is that the winners of 06 will be the ones who do the work and do the studying and take the most from the lessons that can be learned from these elections.

Hope that wasn’t too obvious for you.

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