Lessons from Election Day 2013

Voters headed to the polls in VA, NJ and for other state and local races across the country.  Although these races do not receive the same level of attention on the Congressional or Presidential elections do there are some interesting observations we can take away – namely being a centrist helps win elections, being an obstructionists will lead to rejection at the polls.

In the closing days of the election for Virginia Governor the two candidates went full force in person and on the airwaves.  In population rich area of Northern Virginia Republican AG Ken Cuccinelli’s extremism on social issues took center stage and may have cost him the election. Throughout the campaign the Republican candidates for both Governor and LG. (E.W. Jackson) struggled to reach women voters, and positioned themselves on the far right on issues like reproductive health, repeatedly making outrageous claims opposing preventive health care and comparing abortion to the holocaust or slavery.  The Democrats wasted no time exploiting this weakness with women through hard-hitting ads that ultimately resulted in a clear gender gap of 9%.  Exit polls showed that abortion/reproductive rights increased in importance in voters minds.  Nearly 20% of voters said it was the most important issue and in that group over 65% were pro-choice.  For many, the link to recent anti-choice activity in VA, including forced transvaginal ultrasounds and extraneous mandates for reproductive health clinics, shifted the debate away from core GOP strengths of jobs and the economy and onto divisive social issues. Yet a plurality of voters who label “the economy” as the most important issue to them, still came out for Cuccinelli. This suggests that when Republicans continue to advance ideological extremism on social issues, they do so at the cost of Americans’ real economic priorities.

Juxtapose this race with the landslide win of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.  Christie does lot label himself pro-choice but did not focus his governorship or his campaign on limiting the right to choose or access to reproductive health.  He instead stuck to true conservative issues of limiting government waste and overreach, building a better educational system and forwarding policies that promote economic growth.  Thanks to his deft handing of the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy of 2012, and willingness to work across the aisle in the interest of his constituents, Christie has only grown in popularity throughout the state. A red leader in a blue state Republican Governors highlight the GOP’s current strength, even as the Republican Party’s popularity plummets in Congress.

In the election for New York Mayor, Democrat favorite Bill de Blasio won by a large margin over mainstream Republican Joe Lhota.  Lhota conceded the race saying “I wish the outcome had been different…The road was difficult right from the outset. But your support and your friendship has never wavered.” Lhota, a pro-choice fiscal conservative, was a strong candidate and we hope this will not be the last we see of him in New York politics.

In other news, the Illinois state Senate passed the Freedom to Marry Act, making Illinois the 15th state to support marriage equality. Governor Pat Quinn has said he will sign the legislation into law. 

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One Comment on “Lessons from Election Day 2013”

  1. dina butcher says:

    My family were stalwarts of the Republican party back years ago in King George County, VA and I know most of them did NOT vote for the Republican ex attorney general. I now live in ND and am encouraged at the number of pro-choice Republicans, Independents and libertarians I am running into as we face a 2014 “personhood” measure on our ballot.


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