Post mortem on U.S. election night

The gubernatorial elections [here {very good map of New Jersey voting} and here] in the U.S. states of New Jersey and Virginia have produced two gains for the Republican Party from the Democrats, supporting opinion polls that suggested the opposition is able to mobilise a majority of voters on the issues of the economy, excessive public spending and health care reform.

One problem for the Republican Party is that the wrong lessons could easily be "learned" from the events yesterday. As Scott Rasmussen wrote recently, there is a bigger untapped conservative vote in America that isn't going to back the Democrats and doesn't vote Republican, than there is a Republican-inclined "centre."

So the conventional wisdom of widening appeal by going for independents doesn't work, as the New York State's 23rd congressional election result indicates: the Conservative Party candidate scored over 45% of the vote.

If the Democrats can hold this district in November next year when the 435 seats in the House of Representatives come up for election, they will have reasonable cause for cheer. Also if the Republican Party thinks that its mistake was not giving enough backing Dede Scozzafava, an ACORN supporting "moderate," and that picking candidates from the top is the way forward in the 21st century (watch out in Florida next year!), then the Democrats could even emerge stronger from last night's voting.

The immediate practical consequence of the two gains for the G.O.P. are that the number of Republican Governors has risen to 23 with 27 Democrats remaining. Both New Jersey and Virginia were states that voted for Barack Obama and the Republicans had been fading in these East Coast states. The meme that the Republicans are being driven into the Deep South and the less populated Mountain States has been dented by this election.

For those interested in the New York mayoral election: as expected Bloomberg was re-elected as a nominal Republican. The voting breakdown can be found here, with an interesting graphic showing the various districts of NYC and how polarised they are. To give one example, there are two districts on the Rockaway Peninsula in Long Island which are split as one safe Republican (district 23) and one safe Democrat (district 31).

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