Home / Culture and Society / Election Day 2009: A Tactical Victory for Democrats, Liberals, and Progressives

Election Day 2009: A Tactical Victory for Democrats, Liberals, and Progressives

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Congratulations to the Republicans. They won the governorships of Virginia and New Jersey and defeated gay marriage in Maine.

And that's about it.

"But wait," you say, "there were only two governorships and only one gay marriage law up for election, and the Republicans won them all!" But crowing about those decisions by the electorate of those states is failing to look at the big picture… which I've often pointed out is a common conservative failing.

So what is the "big picture"? Look at the much ballyhooed congressional election in New York's 23rd district. A Democrat hadn't been elected there since 1871 — until now. And then there are two major issues here in Washington state — a major tax 'reform' bill strongly backed by the business folks and conservatives, and an 'everything but marriage' gay rights bill backed by the liberals. We liberals won on both counts. A gay rights bill passed in Kalamazoo, and although Bloomberg won the mayoral race in New York City, it should be noted that it was closer than expected despite his spending $13,000 per hour on his campaign! Talk about buying an election!

But wait, that's not all! In the gubernatorial elections following Dubya's victory in 2000, the Democrats did very well, but did that help us in the 2002 and 2004 elections? Not at all. If the Republicans were wise, they'd remember that.

Back to the big picture. When governorships are up for election, people tend to vote on local issues, not on national issues, and this is reinforced by the results of the exit polls showing that Obama and his policies appear to have had little effect on the decisions of the voters. Not only that, but the failure of the gay marriage bill in Maine (and the success of the gay rights bills elsewhere) only reflected what's been the national trend — gay marriage bills have failed something like 30 consecutive times, but everything-but-marriage gay rights bills have been passing again and again. Can anyone imagine this happening 20 years ago?

And then there's the usual Republican bag of dirty tricks that they use to rile up the base, i.e. falsely accusing the Democrats of trying to steal the election. On his way to losing the NY-23 election, the Conservative candidate Hoffman proclaimed the Democrats were obviously trying to steal the election because a Republican pollster had said his tires were slashed. The police said it was pretty clear the guy had run over a broken bottle.

Not to be outdone, the self-appointed GOP voter fraud watchdog John Fund came out claiming,

People are going door to door in parts of Camden [New Jersey] with Hispanics that don't have very much knowledge of English, and they're saying, "We have a new way for you to vote, la nueva forma de votar; just fill out these papers."

But as Media Matters notes, Fund's Wall Street Journal column, published just a few hours earlier, conceded that this scheme actually occurred in Philadelphia, not New Jersey — in 1993.

Here's a good list of Republican and conservative efforts to claim that the Democrats were 'stealing the election.' That's their modus operandi, isn't it? After all, here's a list of total and partial fabrications the Republicans are claiming about the president's economic recovery act, and here's the complete falsehood of the 'huge spike' in FOX News viewership because of their 'war' with President Obama. Y'know, I would really like to see the Republicans do something completely different and try to stick to the facts and tell the truth, because every single election cycle we see the SAME thing — the Republicans falsely accusing the Democrats of trying to steal the election.

The BC conservatives will claim that the Republicans are only doing what the Democrats are doing anyway, but the challenge stands unanswered: show proof that the Democrats are making such false accusations to such a degree. The BC conservatives won't show such proof, because when they search, they find far fewer instances of Democrats making such false accusations.

I gotta wonder — why is it that the Republican politicians and pundits not only tolerate such outrageous lies, but seem to encourage each other to perpetuate those lies? And why do the Republican voters tolerate, encourage, and even donate to these people? And before anyone tells me the Democrats do it too, show proof that we're doing so anywhere close to the same degree that the Republicans have been!

Back to the main topic. The Republican victories in Virginia, New Jersey, and Maine are not indicative of a national rebuke of Obama's policies by any stretch. The governorships were decided on local issues, and the gay-marriage decision followed a longstanding national trend; however, the other issues — major tax reform, everything-but-marriage gay rights, and a congressional seat (decided on national issues) in a true red stronghold — went to the Democrats.

If anyone really wants to see why the elections went the way they did, and why the elections yesterday were not in any way a great loss to the Democrats, read Nate Silver's non-partisan blog. But for those of you who think statistics are evil and can't be trusted (unless they're supporting your side), just keep voting Republican and Libertarian, y'hear?

Frankly, I'm looking forward to the 2010 elections!

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About Glenn Contrarian

White. Male. Raised in the deepest of the Deep South. Retired Navy. Strong Christian. Proud Liberal. Thus, Contrarian!
  • Palpatine

    To and for the conservative republicans it is a psychological boost that can and will reap benefits in the future for those who have the vision to look past the insignificant.

  • I don’t contend that Tuesday was a great day for Democrats, but it’s also a load of crap that it had anything to do with Obama or national issues.

    Tuesday meant nothing outside of the particular states or portions of states the respective elections affected.

    Next year will be a far truer test of Obama. If the Dems lose control of the Senate and/or lose substantial ground in the House, which certainly is possible, then the remainder of his term will be difficult indeed.

    But I agree wholeheartely with Glenn regarding Republican tactics. A year ago, they got their butts kicked. They soon realized that they had nothing on which to raise their banner. Hell, they didn’t even have a banner.

    Since then they have made it their mission to destroy Obama. This has nothing to do with the welfare of the country, or freedom or anything but political revenge.

    Obama’s campaign made it apparent that the Reps were morally and ethically bankrupt, and intellectually – well, the word hardly applies.

    Now the Reps have pretty much made it clear that they would like nothing better than to rip Obama out of power, by pretty much any means possible including violence in the belief that the end justifies the means. That is the modus operandi of losers. Their legitimacy is gone. Now they are flailing wildly and stomping on the constitution, the very document they want everyone to believe they are defending.

    BTW – today at Michelle Bachmann’s (a key member of the Rep’s braintrust) so called “press conference” that snappy dresser, John Boehner stood up waving the constitution around and, then claiming to be quoting it, he proceeded to read not the Preamble, but rather the opening lines of the Declaration. Pretty sharp, I’d say. I wonder if Boehner passed civics class in high school? How many republicans does it take to screw the country?


  • An excellent point Mark, often considered by many. But Dave is Dave and that’s why we all love him.

  • Mark

    Clavos – And gadzooks, if you need italics and bold for emphasis in your writing, you aren’t doing something right.

    I edit them out, but was working my day job today…

    Dave – I left them in because I think they highlight the hysterical character of the article.

    Dave, if you consider your statement here you might understand why some consider your claim to non-partisan editing to be bogus.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave –

    “hysterical character of the article”?
    “[the article was] positively surreal”?

    Dave, gubernatorial elections are decided on local issues, as my link proved. Every congressional election, OTOH, went the Democratic way. And only one ballot issue went for the Republicans, didn’t it? And even you said that had it been worded differently – if it had had everything but marraige – it would have succeeded as did a similar bill did here in Washington.

    Pooh-pooh it if you like – but I stand by the title of my article. Governors are nice to have, but it’s in the U.S. Congress that the most important decisions are made. The election was certainly a tactical victory for the Democrats.

  • Doc #17 or possibly the Robert E. Lee, as for the other kind of eclipse, I figured as much but who’s willing to stand in the bottom of his backyard outhouse waiting for him to stand up?

  • …and for heaven’s sake why would you care?

  • why would I be disappointed???

  • Jet, I think Clav’s holding out for the Eclipse

  • In fact I think I heard on Fox News of all places that nut job, Orly Taitz a judge has fined her $20,000 for “abusing her privilege to practice law” by bringing suits “without a reasonable basis for believing that they are supported by existing law.”

  • 11 – Jet Gardner, I hate to disappoint you but I am NOT a “birther”! And if you had ever read some of my articles here on BC, you would of known that! But then again, why would you bother to check your facts!!!!!!

  • Why you lazy little… you haven’t sold ANY of them?????

  • Clavos

    Which one, Jet?

  • Clavos; you still haven’t sold that boat yet?

  • Glenn, if she was watching Fox Entertaining news of course she’d think that; they’re still saying that the 2008 election is still too close to call due to a missing birth certificate!

  • 2. I notice that neither Dan nor Matthew addressed the outright lies told by their side.

    I’m pretty sure Matt and Dan aren’t on the same side.

    And gadzooks, if you need italics and bold for emphasis in your writing, you aren’t doing something right.

    I edit them out, but was working my day job today…

    I left them in because I think they highlight the hysterical character of the article.

    BTW, Glenn, this was positively surreal. When you step in a dog turd do you cheer because it means some dog somewhere has healthy bowels?


  • Clavos

    And gadzooks, if you need italics and bold for emphasis in your writing, you aren’t doing something right.

    I edit them out, but was working my day job today…

  • EL…”Stoners are the only ones who made great strides.” LMAO

  • good grief, both sides seem to be making mountains out of molehills. each had gains and losses, but for specific reasons to each locale. Wide-sweeping generalizations miss the mark. Stoners are the only ones who made great strides.

    And gadzooks, if you need italics and bold for emphasis in your writing, you aren’t doing something right.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Christine –

    No, it wasn’t a disaster, not by any means. As I pointed out, gubernatorial elections are decided on LOCAL issues…and the exit polls I linked to showed that the voters’ opinions of Obama had little to do with their votes for governor.

    Now if we’d lost the CONGRESSIONAL races – which WOULD be a direct test of the voters’ opinions of Obama – THEN you’d have a point. But not only did we win those races, but apparently the ONLY gay-rights race that was lost nationwide was the gay-marriage bill in Maine…and even Dave admits that if the bill had asked for everything but marriage, it would likely have passed.

    So NO, Christine – it was NOT a disappointment, not at all. If the congressional races (which unlike gubernatorial races ARE decided on national issues) and the gay-rights bills are any indications, the Republicans are not going to have a happy second week of November next year.

  • Glenn, Glenn: Even cheerleaders know to put their “Pom Poms” down when their team loses! Other than the Hoffman race, which was a disaster from the beginning.

  • To be realistic, Glenn, the Democrats won the Congressional seat in NY by default, after the two right-wing candidates started saying insulting things about each other’s mothers (or something like that) and then the Republican decided to take her ball and go home.

    You did, however, miss the fact that while the GOP can be justifiably pleased with inserting their guy as chief exec in Virginny, they shouldn’t read too much into it. Virginia is a famously ornery state when it comes to electing governors, consistently plumping for the opposite colour to what happens to be in the White House – even during the Reagan years.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    1. It wasn’t a well-written article. I can do better than that.

    2. I notice that neither Dan nor Matthew addressed the outright lies told by their side.

    3. Neither Dan nor Matthew care to learn the lessons of history…but history’s pretty stubborn. We’ll see a better indication next year, won’t we?

  • I couldn’t tell you how many tactical victories the Detroit Lions have had this year.

  • Great article, Glen. Do hold that thought! The Republicans were beaten in every way imaginable, and it was a great victory for President Obama and the Democratic Party. In fact, it probably guarantees that the Democratic Party majority will increase in both houses of Congress next year, and that President Obama will win an even bigger landslide victory in 2012.

    Do tell all your friends, so they won’t be upset.


    skips away, singing giggle giggle.