Trenchant election analysis

One of my former colleagues and current facebook friends asked for my "trenchant election analysis."  Here goes…

1) There's too damn much election analysis going on!  We are talking about governor's races in 2 states.  Yes, there are some suggestive ideas from this, but to draw broad, meaningful conclusions is folly.  That said…

2) Bad time to be an incumbent, especially a Democratic one.  Let's face it, the economy is still pretty weak and people have not seen the Democrats do all that much for them (most people don't really appreciate that we narrowly escaped a genuine economic catastrophe). Corzine was a really unpopular incumbent in a bad economy– this is no great Republican victory.

3) McDonnell won Virginia handily by running as a can-do pragmatic moderate Republican.  His record suggests he is, in fact, a fire-breathing, social issues conservative.  I didn't follow the election enough to see how he pulled that off successfully, but hey, nice work.  The most interesting commentary I read on the VA race was TNR's Jason Zengerle who suggested that the rural VA Deeds was never a comfortable fit for Northern Virginians and Dems win Virginia state-wide races by running up huge margins in NoVa.  No matter how much gun-loving, good ol' boy Deeds was, he was never going to pick up a ton of Dem votes south of Fredericksburg and he didn't play particularly well where the Dem votes are.

4) Republicans are angry and energized.  Democrats are complacent.  No surprise that Republicans turned out in dramatically better numbers.  Republicans should also fare better in 2010 as many of the 2008 Obama supporters remain home, but we should not make too much out of this year, because, ultimately, it all depends on…

5) It's the economy stupid.  What yesterday's elections tell us is that if the economy is in roughly the same shape in a year, the Democrats are in for a world of hurt.  Of course, there's more reason than not to expect it to be substantially better.  Regardless, what happens in 2010 will be much more reflective of the economy next Fall than any political undercurrents that the 2009 VA and NJ governor's races reveal.

6) Nate Silver takes a nice statistical approach to it all.


More Juvenile Injustice

So, recently, I wrote about the Supreme Court hearing a case about whether it was Constitutional for a 13 year-old to receive a life sentence without parole for a crime short of murder.  Turns out there's lots of reasonable doubt as to whether this 13 year old is actually guilty of anything more than burglary, but he was horribly treated by the justice system of Florida– starting with a pathetic excuse for a lawyer who has been suspended from practicing in Florida.  The whole sorry is pretty shameful.  Questionable witnesses with strong ulterior motives, a victim who thinks the voice her assailant "could very well be his," and a judge who seems somewhat clueless.  Slate's Amy Bach summarizes the travesty.

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