by Art Kelly
1. David Freddoso, Online Opinion Editor of the Washington Examiner, wrote: "The November 2011 election was a mixed bag that leans, on the whole, toward the Democrats."
Mark Trumbull in the Christian Science Monitor, wrote: "Voters who cast their ballots dished up big servings of humble pie to both major political parties… If those outcomes signal that many voters believe Republicans overreached coming out of their victorious 2010 midterm elections, it's hard to read Tuesday's overall results as giving any major boost to President Obama's bid for reelection."
In Virginia, Republicans picked up several seats in the State House of Delegates and, pending a recount, probably gained a tie in the State Senate. But expectations had been much higher.
Karen Miner Hurd, Executive Director of the Virginia Tea Party Alliance, believes the problem was that the state GOP had too much money and not enough message.
"The Republican Party still has not learned the lessons about how to fight entrenched Democrats, nor learned how to use effectively multiple channels and coalitions to communicate its message…The Republican Party of Virginia failed to seize a critical opportunity to translate President Obama's unpopularity into a large gain of State Senate seats…
"Overkill money alone doesn't work…The Republican Party needs to work on its message…It must abandon the personality politics of the 1990s and embrace the issue and vision campaigns that win," Hurd wrote.
In Ohio, the big news was the overwhelming defeat, 61% to 39%, of legislation pushed by GOP Governor John Kasich to curtail the power of public sector unions, including local police and fire fighters, to negotiate over benefits.
Kasich was conciliatory in defeat. "It's clear that the people have spoken and my view is, when people speak in a camaign like this, you have to listen," he said.
ConservativeHQ.com's Richard Viguerie likened the election in Ohio to a fox chasing a rabbit. "Most of the time the rabbit wins because, while the fox is running for his dinner, the rabbit is running for his life," he explained, noting that the unions spent $30 million in the campaign to only about $7 million by the business community.
At the same time, conservatives won a tremendous landslide, 66% to 34%, on a referendum to reject Obamacare in Ohio.
There are two important implications for the 2012 election and beyond.
The first is to know where public opinion is on the issues and the consequences of ignoring the salient views of the people. The second is that the 2012 election will be about national issues, especially Obamacare, and probably not too much on state and local issues.
"It is, after all, the President's bill and Obama is the one on the ballot next November," wrote the Washington Post's Aaron Blake.
Kentucky was a disaster for the Republican Party. The results of the Governor’s race were:
Steven Beshear (D) 464,245 (55.7%)
David Williams (R) 294,034 (35.3%)
Gatewood Galbraith(I) 74,860 (9.0%)
The GOP candidate for Secretary of State was also wiped out, receiving only 39.4%, while the Attorney General candidate got 45.0%, the Auditor candidate got 44.2%, and the State Treasurer received 46.6%. The only bright spot was the GOP candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture, who won with 63.8%.
Viguerie traced the problem to the Republican Primary, which nominated Williams, the President of the State Senate, over Tea Partier Phil Moffet.
"When Republicans handed the gubernatorial nomination to insider Williams over Tea Partier Moffet, Republicans missed their best chance to clean house in the Bluegrass State," Viguerie wrote.
We'll cover more about the 2011 elections in the next issue of this newsletter.
2. In the CNBC Republican presidential debate at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, near Detroit, Rick Perry suffered a serious mental lapse, while Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Michele Bachmann had impressive performances.
The current What's Happening with Seniors Benefits newsletter provides a transcript of the portion of the debate that related to Social Security, in which Bachmann effectively spoke up against President Obama's proposal to continue the payroll tax cut.
Jeffrey Rendall of ConservativeHQ.com noted that this 10th debate, like the others in the series, was more for theatre than substance. He was especially critical of one of the CNBC moderators, Jim Cramer.
"Cramer was the only one who was overtly annoying, trying to carry his screaming act to this type of event--and it didn't work. Watching Cramer practically shouting down Ron Paul was one of several low points of the evening--something that shouldn't happen in a presidential debate. It was unprofessional," Rendall wrote.
He called Gingrich and Mitt Romney the winners of the debate with honorable mention going to Herman Cain.
"Gingrich won because he's always in command.
"Romney was made for this type of forum, where all he has to do is look great in a suit and be able to put together one minute sound-bites of policy couched in economic jargon. When Romney stays on message, he's nearly impossible to beat. The moderators tried time and again to get him ruffled, but this time (as compared to last month's debacle), he refused to let himself off his own self-imposed leash," Rendall observed.
Ron Paul could be the most successful unsuccessful candidate of all time, Rendall suggested, as the Texas Congressman has greatly influenced the GOP and "won the ultimate ideological war."
Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post's conservative blogger, also called Romney "the winner" and said, "Gingrich had a typically strong outing." Like Rendall, she said Cramer set "a new low for annoying moderators."
But she noted that Cain's answer to every question was the same: his 999 plan.
"It was obvious he really didn't have a grasp of any material beyond that…That's all he knows, and voters have figured it out…He seemed badly outmatched on substance by both Romney and Gingrich," Rubin wrote.
Virtually every debate observer agreed that Perry hurt himself very badly when he could not remember what he was trying to say.
The Post's Chris Cillizza concluded that Perry's 43-second stumble was "one of the most awkward moments ever…It's hard to overemphasize just how damaging this was for Perry."
This newsletter's report on the previous debate in Las Vegas contained two comments from observers who noticed Perry freeze in that appearance as well, although it was less dramatic.
Michelle Malkin worried that Perry "sputtered in the middle of an answer to a question about religion…and then bizarrely paused mid-sentence several times. Brain freeze. Shuddering at the thought of this happening during a general election debate. Egad."
Jimmy Murphy was upset at that prospect too. "Can you imagine Governor Perry going up against the President in a debate? I can tell you right now I would not have the stomach to watch such a mismatch."
The next debate will be in Spartanburg, South Carolina on Saturday, November 12, at 8 PM Eastern on CBS.
Quickly following that will be yet another debate in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, Novenber 15, at 8 PM Eastern on CNN.