Today, for the first time since President Obama was inaugurated in January, many voters get their chance to render a verdict — or at least an indirect one — on the president and the runaway congress.
Two races for Governor — one in Virginia and one in New Jersey — along with an odd Congressional special election in New York are being viewed as a mini-referendum on Obama’s first 12 months in power.
Though Republican wins in two or all three won’t deter House Speaker Pelosi or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from their agendas this year, they could — and just might — mark a breaking conservative dawn.
Here is where Republicans stand today as voters head to the ballot box…
Virginia: Polls Continue to Show McDonnell Leading and White House has Given Up
The Real Clear Politics average has GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell up 13 points over Democratic opponent R. Creigh Deeds. The latest Survey USA poll taken last weekend has McDonnell up a whopping 18 points. Polling numbers have been consistently moving in McDonnell’s favor for several weeks and conservatives all over Virginia and the DC metro area are already celebrating.
McDonnell’s race registers as the clearest litmus test for the Obama Administration as McDonnell’s strategy was more or less to run against Obama instead of Deeds. Just two weeks before the election the Washington Post reported that the White House was leaking criticisms of the Deeds campaign hoping convince the nation that it was his weak strategy that lost the race not the states reflection on the President’s policies.
Would the White House have boasted a win for Deeds as a positive reflection on the president’s agenda? Of course. Bickering between the Deeds campaign and the Obama White House may indicate deeper problems for the White House in 2010.
With Deeds now alone, and McDonnell’s lead in the polls apparently growing, this race is very likely to result in a Republican victory in a state that Dems hoped to turn blue after President Obama’s win there last year.
New Jersey: Neck and Neck
While polls justify conservatives being optimistic in Virginia, the governor’s race in New Jersey is apparently a toss up this morning. President Obama traveled to New Jersey this past weekend to stump for Democratic Governor Jon Corzine, who is only one point behind GOP candidate Chris Christie according to the Real Clear Politics average.
A third party candidate, Chris Daggett, has also made the race more interesting according to the latest polls, attracting 8% of likely voters.
While Deeds and the White House have had a somewhat tempestuous love affair, Corzine on Sunday was all about being an Obama minion: “Corzine, pitching himself as the president’s proxy, said a vote for him emboldens Obama in his efforts to overhaul the health-care system and mend the nation’s tattered economy,” writes Bloomberg.com
According to Quinnipiac polling, Corzine has a mere 39% job approval rating and 60% believe property taxes will go up if Corzine is re-elected. Throughout his campaign, Corzine took a few roundabout shots at Christie’s weight, which should prompt some to wonder how desperate things really became in the Corzine trenches.
Does Obama have enough political capital left to cash in a win for Corzine? He still has a 55% job approval rating in the Garden State, which means a win for Christie would still be considered the upset of the night.
New York 23rd District — Special Election: Hoffman Surges in Public Policy Polling
A new Public Policy poll has the Conservative/Republican candidate Doug Hoffman with a 17 point lead over Democrat Bill Owens. Other last minute polling has Hoffman up five points.
These numbers come after a surprising withdrawal from the scorned official Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava and not her so surprising endorsement of Owens. But not everyone in Scozzafava’s campaign is supporting Owens. Scozzafava’s own spokesman Matt Burns expressed his support for Hoffman Sunday evening in a call organized by the ACU PAC.
“NY-23 is shaping up as a huge victory for the grassroots conservative wing of the Republican Party,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling in a press release. “Doug Hoffman was able to convince GOP voters to choose him over the party’s own nominee and it looks like he will win a resounding victory.”
Barack Obama’s approval rating in the district is 39% according to Public Policy Polling.
Vice President Joe Biden flew in to the 23rd District yesterday for some last minute praise for Owens. In his speech he bashed Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and of course former President George W. Bush.
On the Sunday shows Obama’s talking heads Valerie Jarrett, David Plouffee and David Axelrod all bashed the GOP “for becoming more and more extreme and more and more marginalized.”
“This may be where the energy is in the Republican Party, but it’s certainly not a view on which you can build a majority party,” said Axelrod.
Worried about losing the majority already? Sounds like they think the GOP has already locked down these three races.