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Friday, October 28, 2016

Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) — There are votes still being tallied from yesterday’s election, but myths are already settling in.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s huge re-election is a model for Republicans nationally and makes him the party’s frontrunner for 2016; the defeat of conservative Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia governor’s race and of a right-wing congressional candidate in Alabama signify a diminished Tea Party; the victory of Clinton family confidants in Virginia and New York City is a boost for Hillary Clinton’s presidential quest; and the election of Bill de Blasio as New York mayor suggests America is ready for a left-wing agenda.

All these judgments either overreach or are just plain wrong.

Christie’s win, with more than 60 percent of the vote, is impressive. He also enjoyed the best of all fortunes: an unknown, under-financed, mediocre opponent. A big win by a moderate Republican isn’t unprecedented in New Jersey; a quarter century ago, Tom Kean won re-election by an even bigger margin.

The governor’s national ambitions might be tempered a bit by the reality that exit polls yesterday showed he would lose his home state to Hillary Clinton in a hypothetical presidential race. And the profile of the 2013 electorate is more favorable to Christie than the likely 2016 turnout.

Cuccinelli ran as a right-wing Republican in Virginia. He, too, was a bad candidate. He still came within 3 points, which is unlikely to discourage future Tea Party aspirants.

The Republican establishment and the business community were ecstatic about their successful backing of Bradley Byrne in an Alabama special House race, where he defeated Dean Young, a Tea Party candidate. That sends a message to the party’s right wing, some claimed.

A close look at the race is much less conclusive. Byrne is a familiar figure, having run successfully as a state senator and unsuccessfully for the governorship. Young had never run and voiced views that, even by Alabama standards, were on the fringe: demanding a pledge to embrace the “Biblical condemnation of homosexuality” and to proclaim America is a “Christian nation.”

Byrne, with lots of business support, far outspent his opponent, yet won by only 5 points in what should have been a slam dunk.

Nobody is closer to the Clintons than the governor-elect of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe. And de Blasio managed Hillary Clinton’s first Senate run.

The support of a governor in presidential races ain’t what it used to be. Ask Hillary Clinton. In the 2008 Iowa caucuses, she was backed by the state’s popular governor, Tom Vilsack. She was clobbered by Barack Obama. And of all the political supporters who might help her in 2016, the mayor of New York wouldn’t make the A, B or C list.

De Blasio is an unabashed liberal. He promises to address income inequality and raise taxes on the rich to finance educational opportunities for the working class and poor. He won by an even bigger margin than Christie. His opponent, however, may have been an even worse candidate than Christie’s rival. And New York City, whatever its virtues, isn’t a bellwether of politics elsewhere.

(Albert R. Hunt is a Bloomberg View columnist.)

Photo: Bob Jagendorf via Flickr

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Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • angryspittle

    I guess the lesson of Christie’s election is to be a big fat bully who belittles anyone who dares challenge you on any issue.

    • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

      I guess the lesson of Christie’s REELECTION is to listen to the voters to figure out what they need, instead of telling them what YOU want THEM to have, like the Tea Party tries to do.

  • Is the Tea Party dead? No, of course not. But the Tea Party is liable to respond to this loss by gnawing off another one of its legs.

    In the hours leading up to Cuccinelli’s defeat, Tea Party leaders had a familiar talking point: They said Cuccinelli was going to fail because he “wasn’t conservative enough.”

    This is what the Tea Party tells itself is the problem every single time they lose an election; instead of addressing the problem, they double-down on it.

    So even though the Tea Party has existed since the John Birch society and will continue to exist for many decades to come, it is gradually going to grow smaller and smaller until a Democratic redistricting plan defangs it completely.

    After which they all retreat back into their caves and fortified compounds to silently stew and listen to Alex Jones until the next time America votes for a black man.

    • Stuart

      And Dean Young also wasn’t conservative enough?

      • silas1898

        Yes but; “He couldn’t get his message out”. There’s always an excuse.

    • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

      Michael, the problem is the Tea Party has already gnawed off one of its legs and is still caught in the trap. I assume they gnawed off one of their left legs and are about to do the same to the other left leg. Bet they will still be caught in the trap afterwards.

      • Fukuppy

        Good point.
        The Tea Party, like many Americans, have objections to the way the government takes too much and gives such paltry value in return. But by becoming pawns of the ultra-right wing, which finances their activities and writes their scripts, they are gnawing off the wrong leg.
        Here’s a case where the Tea party should turn around and bite the hand that feeds them.

    • Constipervatism

      How much more conservative could you get than the Cooch? Slavery? Death camps for gays and atheists? Turning every public building into a church? Is there some mythical right-wing fringe beyond the right-wing fringe that modern American politicians have heretofore dared not tread?

      • That’s exactly what I concluded my article about Nordvig by asking. It makes no sense to insist that people like Cuccinelli aren’t conservative enough. But to be fair, what else can we expect from a bunch of short-fused anti-intellectuals?

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  • Vinny Gordon

    True believers will not be moved by facts.