1. Money Doesn't Matter. Mike Bloomberg broke records by spending at least $90 million of his own money on a race for a third term as New York’s Mayor, saturating the world’s most costly media market for endless commercials in an effort to destroy an already feeble opponent. His massive spending yielded a shockingly close race and a victory margin of just five points. Across the river in New Jersey, another plutocrat pol, Governor Jon Corzine, outspent his rival by at least three-to-one but still got thumped by Republican Chris Christie. In Seattle, T-mobile executive Joe Mallahan ran for mayor and also outspent his bearded, radical opponent by at least 300% and is currently running a thousand votes behind with half the ballots still to count. Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman lost an overwhelmingly Republican electorate in New York’s 23rd Congressional district, despite a last-minute infusion of millions of dollars in outside cash. In race after race across the country, the American people sent a clear, unmistakable message: our votes are not for sale, and big-spending candidates will most often waste their money.
2. While Money Doesn't Matter, Candidate Quality Does. Chris Christie was a good candidate, and captured a Democratic state with a convincing win. Bob McDonnell was a great candidate – with real national potential, by the way – and won a Democrat-leaning state in a blowout of historic proportions. Doug Hoffman was a terrible candidate and lost a race that almost anyone else could have won. Hoffman’s inarticulate, halting, ill-informed media performances (particularly in the final two weeks of his campaign) doomed his candidacy more than internal GOP divisions. In a desperate attempt to justify this sad candidacy, Hoffman’s biggest media backer, talk show host Glenn Beck, resorted to describing his boy as “an ordinary guy” and suggesting that his lack of sophistication and knowledge (particularly about local issues) was actually an advantage. The common touch is certainly an advantage for any candidate, but voters don’t generally warm to people who sound dumber than they are. Given Hoffman’s limitations as a campaigner, it’s entirely possible he would have still lost the district even had he won the GOP nomination in the first place. The prior GOP Congressman, John McHugh, was in fact a moderate/conservative – with a 71% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union. He won the district a year ago with 64%, while Obama carried the same district by 52%. In that climate, the GOP needed a mainstream conservative candidate with dynamism, energy, the ability to connect with everyday citizens, and a touch of charisma. With Doug Hoffman, they got a dead fish.