Wednesday, November 09, 2005

General Election '05: Kaine Crowned, Corzine Cleans Up and the "Governator" Gets KO'ed


The Democrats are smiling this morning, and the mood among Republicans undoubtedly matches the New York weather: dismal. All around the country, voters handed Democrats solid victories, with only lefty New York City providing the GOP some solace. So dear readers, here's a 2 minute rundown...

Virginia: Tim Kaine (D) vs. Jerry Kilgore (R)

All the polls had this one a squeaker, but it turned into a rout. While Governor and Presidential contender Mark Warner (D) is wildly popular (approval rating: 75%) but term-limited, VA stumped for Bush by 9% in 2004. Kilgore had every reason to expect victory. Throughout, the campaign was dominated by debates over the death penalty and vicious attack ads. At the eleventh-hour, President Bush, who has an approval rating in the low 40s in VA, stopped in to give Kilgore a boost. Some pundits think the opposite may have happened--on election day, Kaine handily carried the heavily Democratic Washington, D.C suburbs, rolling up huge victories in Arlington and Fairfax Counties. Kaine also managed to carry the exurbs that swept Bush to victory in 2004, hold his own in southeast and southwestern Virginia, and Richmond. In the end, Kilgore couldn't beat the math, losing by 6%

New Jersey: Corzine (D) Buries Forrester (R)

In many respects New Jersey is the opposite of Virginia: a solidly blue state that firmly backed both Al Gore and John Kerry. But polling showed Forrester had significantly closed the gap on New Jersey's freshman Senator after a year of withering political scandals bruised New Jersey's statehouse. But as New Jersey's blue state tendencies shone through, Forrester chose to air increasingly negative ads in the campaign's final days. On election day he paid the price--the result wasn't even close, Corzine buried Forrester by 10%.

New York City: A Sort-Of Republican Wins Big

New York "hearts" Mike Bloomberg, and with his approval rating well over 60%, the result of this was never in doubt--the only a question was how big. To stave off defeat Democrats unified behind Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx borough President. Either way, New Yorkers would make history on election day--they would either elect their first Latino mayor (Ferrer) or hand Gracie Mansion to a Republican for an unprecedented fourth term.

New Yorkers greeted the election with a giant yawn, assuming a Bloomberg victory to be a foregone conclusion. They were right. Bloomberg racked up a massive victory, winning 59% of the overall vote. Ferrer could only struggle to 39%. Bloomberg's 20-point margin is biggest majority ever won by a Republican in New York City. Ferrer managed to carry his hometown Bronx (where he won 59% of the vote), but Bloomberg carried Manhattan (61%), Brooklyn (58%), Queens (64%), and Republican-leaning Staten Island (77%).

One bright spot for the Democrats--their back bench is full for 2009. The Republicans have no natural successor to the New York Mike everyone seems to love.

California: The "Year of Reform" Falls Short

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) staked a considerable amount of his declining political capital on four ballot measures that, if passed, would have overhauled California's political system. The last year has been a dismal one for the Republican, as he has watched his sky-high popularity evaporate like San Francisco fog. With his poll numbers sitting dismally in the 40s, his re-election prospects were already looking bleak.

None of the propositions caught fire with voters, and all became a collective referendum on the Governor and the President. On Tuesday, Californians vented their anger. All were soundly defeated.

Other Races....

Democrats
won election or were re-elected as Mayors in Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Houston...and in a curious twist, one Democrat defeated another in St. Paul (the defeated Democrat mayor endorsed Bush in last year's General Election. He was subsequently defeated by a Democrat challenger by 40% points on Tuesday).

Maine voters soundly rejected a repeal of that state's gay rights law. The law now takes effect immediately, making Maine the sixth (and final) New England state to protect LGBT citizens from discrimination.

The GOP held on to office in San Diego and Charlotte.

In Texas, voters overwelmingly approved a state Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, making Texas the 19th state to do so.

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