Lesson 3 for Democrats: You're not doing so well with immigrants. Hispanic and Asian turnout in Virginia was down from 2012. Christie carried Hispanics 51-45 percent in a state where they voted 78-21 percent for Obama in 2008. Polls showed Hispanics souring on Obamacare, and Christie kept showing up in their communities for four years.
Lesson 3 for Republicans: Raise more money. Cuccinelli backers complain that the Republican National Committee kicked in only $3 million, not $9 million as in 2009.
Fair point. But why didn't the Cuccinelli campaign raise more from Tea Partiers across the nation? Why not match the dollars McAuliffe raised from Clinton connections and crony capitalists? Why not raise money rather than whine?
Lesson 4 for Democrats: You can't count on Tea Partiers to shut the government down again. The victory of establishment-oriented Bradley Byrne over a Tea Partier in Alabama's 1st Congressional District runoff election Tuesday suggests that, even in a hyper-conservative district, the impulse among Republican voters for confrontation with Democrats is waning.
Lesson 4 for Republicans: You can't count on Obamacare continuing to implode. It may well do so, but you'd better have alternatives to offer.
Lesson 5 for both parties: Facts on the ground matter -- and can change the political equation.
Ted Cruz and other Obamacare defunders argued that implementing the new health care law would get Americans hooked on subsidies and make the law unrepealable. But the subsidies seem stingy and invisible, while the website remains unusable.
Barack Obama and his administrators believed they could get away with their promise that you can keep your insurance and your doctor. But the avalanche of people who eventually found out they can't was bound to undermine this claim -- and the president's credibility.
The two parties have been closely competitive in six of the 10 congressional elections over the last 20 years. Republicans fell below competitive levels in 2006 and 2008, when they were perceived as incompetent.
Democrats fell below competitive levels in 1994 and 2010, when they seemed guilty of ideological overreach.
During the government shutdown, some Democrats hoped the Republicans would suffer from both incompetence and overreach. Now, as Obamacare founders, there seems more danger that the Democrats will.