Author's Note: Republican Dede Scozzafava dropped out of next Tuesday’s NY 23 special election early Saturday morning. She did not endorse either of her two opponents, Conservative party candidate Doug Hoffman or Democrat Bill Owens.
Would one-party domination in any combination of Tuesday’s off-year elections really indicate where this country is going politically?
You’ve got gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia, a congressional special election in upstate New York, and a state Supreme Court race in Pennsylvania.
“I see no particular harbingers for 2010,” says Purdue University’s Bert Rockman. “While people are deeply unhappy about current conditions, they are also keenly suspicious of Republicans.”
Perhaps so. But however these races turn out for both parties, the anti-incumbency mood is growing across the country.
Here’s how these races are shaping up:
• In Virginia’s gubernatorial contest, Republican Bob McDonnell holds a comfortable lead over Democrat Creigh Deeds.
• New Jersey faces a dead-heat between Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, and Republican Chris Christie, with independent Chris Daggett holding onto his double-digit support.
• It’s splitsville in New York’s 23rd Congressional District, where independent Doug Hoffman is tied with Democrat Bill Owens and Republican Dede Scozzafava.
• Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court race between Democrat Jack Panella and Republican Joan Orie Melvin will tip the balance of power on the bench to one party or the other – important, as the 2010 redistricting lines will be drawn in this battleground state.
What does all of this mean?
Populism is on the rise and conservatism is gaining steam, perhaps at its own expense. (If Hoffman loses in New York, it almost ensures that the Northeast will be almost exclusively Democrat-blue territory).
A sour mood exists among people, with close-to-10-percent unemployment, decreasing health-care benefits and rising taxes – and a view that the well-heeled get bailed-out but John and Joan Q. Citizen do not.
Because our political system was designed to be slow and laborious and to do little, that sour mood grows rather than dissipates.
These political conditions have made the difficult course of lawmaking become nearly impossible, and governing has become highly averse to coherent action.