One year after President Obama swept to power on a promise of “hope” and “change,” American voters got an early chance to pass judgment on his administration. If yesterday’s Republican victories in Democratic strongholds like Virginia and New Jersey are any guide, they don’t like what they see.
While results from around the country were still coming in at press time, the outcome of the race in Virginia is proof positive that the sands have shifted beneath the administration’s feet. Last year, Barack Obama became the first Democrat presidential candidate to win the state since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. The Left and their media allies swooned with excitement, and portrayed the 230,000 vote margin of victory as a sure sign that the Republican hold on the state was broken. Democrats were winning the culture wars in what had once been safely Republican territory, it was claimed. Tomes were written performing autopsies on Virginia’s GOP, examining personal rivalries and acrimony, sloppy communication and a demoralized base as reasons for the surprising defeat. Such was the Democrats’ glee that Virginia Republicans were all but added to the registry of endangered species.
A year later, their demise seems greatly exaggerated. Virginia has gone solidly Republican, with the GOP wining the races for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general, and, according to the early results, winning them by wide margins. This is bad news indeed for the Democrats, as they current hold six of the state’s 11 Congressional seats. A reenergized state-level GOP organization will now have a full year to raise funds, mobilize support, and make a hard push to put the state back firmly in the red column in next year’s midterm elections.
A similar story has unfolded in New Jersey, where Republican challenger Christopher Christie has defeated Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine – this even as he was outspent 3-1 by the billionaire governor who sunk some $23 million of his own money into the general election race. As is typical of New Jersey politics, the issue of corruption in the state’s government was a campaign hot-button. Yet polls — including today’s exit polls — showed that most voters are worried about taxes and the economy.
The New Jersey result is particularly ominous for Obama, who campaigned for Corzine this past weekend but failed to sway the vote in his favor – another sign of his rapidly fading star power. After witnessing nine months of massive spending surges in the midst of a recession, and detecting no clear plan of how to pay for any of it, it is no wonder that New Jersey voters worried about their taxes and the struggling economy would fail to be impressed by the president’s appeal.
The media has been quick to line up pundits prepared to inform the public that these races, and the good news they bring to the Republicans, should in no way be viewed as a referendum on the president’s first year in office. But they are exactly that. In 2008, President Obama ran a disciplined, effective campaign, promising change and a better future for America through jobs, health care reform, and an end to the war in Iraq. A year later, he has failed to deliver. Instead, the country has been treated to tired rhetoric about new beginnings, increasingly untenable attempts to blame the previous administration for the country’s woes, and ever bleaker budgetary forecasts.
Yet, the media continues to offer Obama as much cover as they can. There has been much media buzz about the collapse of the Republican campaign for the House seat in New York’s 23rd Congressional district. The liberal Republican candidate, Dierdre “Dee Dee” Scozzafava, quit the race in favor of her conservative rival Doug Hoffman after being repudiated by several major names in the Republican Party, including Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum. Intelligent and polite, Hoffman has run on a platform of solidly conservative — small government, low taxes, and individual liberty. While some media tried to spin this as a sign of the narrow appeal of the Right, it was in fact a sign that traditionally conservative policies and candidates enjoy broad support in the district, even in Democrat-leaning New York. Although the final results from New York are still unclear, Hoffman’s rise indicates that there is genuine appetite for sound, small-c conservative leadership.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Obama was going to change the face of American politics. Instead he has made it less attractive to a growing share of the public. Whether it’s trillion-dollar deficits or government-run health care, Americans are at last coming to terms with what they voted for. However the media may try to spin it, the country is starting to face the painful truth that Obama has proven to be a disappointment in office. The Obama revolution may have started in Chicago. But it has run aground in Virginia and New Jersey.