Keane observations about life, politics and sports.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

2009 Election Post-Mortum

It is very easy to draw the wrong conclusion from these odd year elections. Reality is each cycle is different and the set of circumstances on the ground in those states may not be the same next year let alone three years out in 2012. Virginia and New Jersey will each be replacing a Democrat governor with a Republican one. However, that is where the similarities end. In Virginia it was an open race whereas in New Jersey an incumbent, Jon Corzine was running for reelection. Corzine was hampered by various scandals and a growing resentment of New Jersey's high taxes and unemployment rate. In Virginia, Deeds was a poor candidate who didn't appeal to voters. We do not know how much the mood in the country regarding the stimulus spending and the attempts to overhaul our health care system played into these races. There is no denying it played a role to some degree.

Democrats, particularly those up for reelection next November, have to weigh that public sentiment as they cast votes going forward. Do they vote faithfully with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid only to find themselves out of office? Do they buck their party leaders and then find campaign funds drying up and end up out of office anyways?

Republicans have to learn how to properly respond to the anti-stimulus, anti-incumbent, dissatisfied with government mood. For decades Republicans have said things like "I'm for smaller government" or "I'm for lower taxes." That may make sense to those of us who can make the connection between tax burden and the overall economy. However, we are approaching the point where half the population pays no income taxes and thus don't understand the problem. Republican leaders and spokesmen need to find a way to convey to the populace at large how higher taxes hurts everyone whether they are personally paying those taxes or not. Currently, a large segment of the voting population believes tax cuts only benefit the rich. Many don't believe the ever increasing national debt is a threat to them. Overcoming those misconceptions is the biggest job of the Republicans going forward. Additionally, they need to admit that they were wrong to overspend when in power last decade and have learned not to act like Democrats.

The media tries to play up social issues. However, as strongly as some of us may feel about hot button social issues they will not drive large number of voters from one side to the other. A percentage of the population may correctly believe abortion to be evil. A different percentage may believe killing a child is no big deal as long as the mother makes the choice. However, to most voters those issues have no direct impact on their life. Massive national debt that will inevitably lead to inflation affects everyone. The great majority of us will never be affected by whether boys marry other boys or girls marry other girls, but we will all be impacted by our share of the national debt. Each individual's share is currently over 38 thousand dollars and that isn't per taxpayer - no, that is per person. Republicans should stick to their principles on the social issues, but must also ensure voters understand the difference between the parties on fiscal issues which is of more immediate concern to most voters.

On the local issues, as I thought, all the Ohio statewide issued passed and the candidates I supported lost. Oh, well can't win them all. As Norma explains, we are going to regret issue number three most of all. Unfortunately, local candidate Chris Lyons lost. There was just not enough difference position wise to drive voters to back her over the incumbent. This was not her time, but I hope she tries again in the future.

Today is the first day of the 2010 race. Should be interesting. The Obama administration can claim that last night was not a reflection on the unpopularity of the president's policies. Next year that claim won't hold water.

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