Thursday, January 22, 2009

Upcoming Elections: Obama-mentum or GOP-led Comeback?

Only a few states have off-year, odd-numbered year elections and these races can often provide insight or a glimpse at trends. While Republicans have been demoralized with Obama’s large win and the Democratic stranglehold on both houses of congress, they can take comfort in the fact that they have won all three congressional elections that have occurred after Nov. 4th (Chambliss’ re-election in Georgia, and two house seats in LA—one of them a pickup in the defeat of indicted Dem. Incumbent William Jefferson in an ultra-liberal New Orleans district the GOP has not held since the 1800s).

New Jersey and Virgina have upcoming gubernatorial elections. VA Attorney General Bob McDonnell has a clear field on the Republican side and has a slight advantage in the race, which would be a pickup for the GOP. According to a Rasmussen poll conducted last month, he leads Dem. Brian Moran by 41-37 percent, runs dead even with Rep. Creigh Deeds 39-39 percent, and leads Dem. Frontrunner, Clinton advisor, and former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe 41-37 percent. At this time, unaffiliated voters are leaning towards McDonnell. Although is is still too early, this is great news for Virginia Republicans.

And now, a Rasmussen poll of this year's NJ Governor's race:

New Jersey always seems like fool’s gold for the GOP. Time and time again, polls show unpopular Democrats doing poorly in polls against Republican challengers only to win in November and retain the advantages of the state’s Democratic party machine. But let’s not forget that New Jersey had a Republican governor as recently as 2002 and has held a lock on the governor’s office for more than 20 out of the last 30 years. Could this be the year that residents of the highest-taxed state in the union reject institutionalized corruption once and for all? Corzine’s approval rating is below 50 percent—an ominous sign for any incumbent—and his association with Goldman Sach’s has hurt him with public disapproval of the banking bailout at an all-time high. Combine that with the state’s budget woes, fiscal mismanagement, and soaring taxes, and U.S. attorney Chris Christie, who has won kudos for prosecuting corruption in the state, may have a serious chance after all as this poll suggests. The GOP may go for 2-0 in pickups in an off-year, which could signal a very good year for Republicans looking ahead to 2010.

Looking to 2010, the latest polling out of California is most shocking—if the numbers are to be believed, the Republicans have a good chance of holding on to this bluest of blue states with a Republican more in line with party values than Ah-nuld. Former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman formerly worked on Romney’s campaign before becoming McCain’s finance director and is known as a fiscal hawk—which should be attractive in a state with a ballooning deficit and no taxes left to raise. Whitman leads two of the leading Democratic contenders and is within striking distance of former Gov. Jerry Brown.

Of course, other Republicans including CA state insurance commissioner Steve Poizner and newly-elected Congressman Tom McClintock have expressed interest in running for the state’s top job and it remains to be seen if either of them can be as competitive as Whitman when matched up against the top Democratic contenders.

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