Warning signs for Dems, GOP after elections

Associated Press

Virginia Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe addresses his supporters Wednesday during an election victory party in Tysons Corner. Behind him are sons Jack, 20, and Peter, 11.

WASHINGTON (AP) — As partisanship renders Washington largely dysfunctional, voters in two states signaled this week that they want consensus-building even when there’s divided government.

Even so, heading into a 2014 midterm election year, Tuesday’s results in New Jersey and Virginia carry plenty of warning signs for both parties that despite the voter angst, hyper-partisanship is still likely to rule, especially on debates over the budget and health care.

In reliably Democratic New Jersey, Republican Gov. Chris Christie easily won a second term with support from voters who aligned with President Barack Obama last November. Those same voters kept Democrats in charge of the New Jersey Legislature, even as they gave the popular governor a boost as he considers running for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.

In Virginia, one of the nation’s most competitive states, longtime Democratic Party power broker Terry McAuliffe defeated Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli by a narrow margin for governor, but Republicans retained control of the House of Delegates. The state Senate remains up for grabs in a coming special election.

McAuliffe and Christie each embraced the notion of bipartisanship in their victory. But exit polls and immediate reactions from national party players — including tea party activists — suggest that Republicans and Democrats are likely to remain entrenched in their partisan positions.

During the campaign, McAuliffe hammered Cuccinelli as a tea party conservative, hard-liner on social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage and cheerleader for the national Republicans whose opposition to the health care law helped trigger the partial government shutdown in October. Cuccinelli saddled McAuliffe with the clumsy implementation of Obama’s signature law. Both strategies resonated, but Democrats say McAuliffe’s victory proves which mattered more and portends a Democratic advantage in Senate and governors’ races next year.

“Ken Cuccinelli made this race a referendum on Obamacare,” said Mo Elleithee, a Democratic National Committee spokesman. Democrats “made it a referendum on the shutdown and extremism. We won.”

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, noted several states where incumbent Republicans were elected in the 2010 tea party wave, including Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, all states Obama won twice.

“They’re stuck with a bunch of tea party governors who are Ken Cuccinelli’s clone,” Shumlin said.

Virginia exit polls found that 42 percent of voters oppose the tea party movement, while just 28 percent said they support it. But on the question of blame for the shutdown, the difference was essentially the same as McAuliffe’s margin of victory: 48 percent blamed Republicans in Congress, with 88 percent of those people voting for McAuliffe; 45 percent blamed Obama, with 87 percent of them opting for Cuccinelli.

At the Democrats’ national Senate campaign office, spokesman Matt Canter noted that in competitive GOP Senate primaries around the country, all candidates have embraced the shutdown. Meanwhile, congressional Republicans running for the Senate without tough primary opposition — Tom Cotton in Arkansas and Shelley Moore Capito in West Virginia — voted for the temporary fix. “They know it’s awful politics for them,” Canter said.

But Democrats’ interpretation ignores voter dissatisfaction with the health care law. Half of New Jersey voters and 53 percent of Virginia voters said they opposed it, and the two Democratic governor candidates got 11 percent and 14 percent of those voters.

(4) comments

Wayo44Mag

The Tea Party is a comin' baby , the Tea Party is a comin'!!![thumbup]

whitemanfortyfour

The republiCONS can't win and their party will keep unraveling as their membership continues to drop. The minorities of America that will soon be the majority are VERY aware the DEMOCRATS ARE THE FORWARD THINKERS and the republiCONS are just INFESTED with RACIST ideology of the past! It is a FACT you can NOT win a presidential election without the minorities!!! PERIOD!!! So that pretty much puts the nail in the coffin for the Bigots and the offspring of the GOP for well, probably the rest of eternity??? What I have a problem with are the undercover rednecks that are going to be jumping ship soon and want to come taint the Democrats. We honestly don't need any of them and I wouldn't want some redneck, young or old, spouting off racist ideology under the banner of the REAL AMERICAN PARTY!!!

johnqFrederick

More free drugs! Tax marijuana! spread the wealth. What difference does it make?

Comment deleted.
johnqFrederick

Keep your gay slurs and hate speech to yourself -- your bumper sticker reads 'Keep on Lickin'

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