james debate
james debate

Tuesday 3 November 2009

So recently, anyone who's been tuning into CNN or other mainstream American news networks will have been bombarded with hype about these super important special elections taking place this month. Clearly this has nothing to do with the fact that CNN reported record tv ratings during the 2008 election and everything to do with how incredibly important the gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia, and the 23rd congressional district in New York are.

But that's not all. That bloated old street-whore known as the mainstream media is also trying to bill these elections as some kind of 'test' for President Obama. In their view, if the Democrats lose these first post-2008 elections, particularly in Virginia which voted Democrat in 2008 for the first time since 1964, it will clearly be an indication of a dissatisfaction with Obama's performance as President so far.

It sounds reasonable enough to your average punter, but for anyone with any prior knowledge of politics, it's completely absurd, and I'm going to show you why.

This silly idea seems based upon two fallacies, first that these elections are in some way related to public opinion of Obama, and second that if it is, then it reflects negatively upon his presidency.

First it's important to note that Corzine (D-NJ) and Deeds (D-Va) were both incredibly unpopular before Obama was even elected to the office of President, so to claim that them losing is somehow unexpected and caused by Obama's performance is immediately quite an absurd claim.

Second there is the fact that for the past 20 years whoever has won the White House has lost the gubernatorial race in New Jersey the following year, and with the Virginia election that number is 36 years. Meanwhile no Democrat has won the 23rd district in New York in over a hundred years. So to somehow claim that losing these three elections is an aberration for a newly elected President is frankly appalling.

Third, and probably most important, it doesn't take a political scientist to see that there is very little correlation between how states vote in local elections and how they vote on the federal level. I draw to your attention the fact that we have a Republican governor in the ultra liberal state of California, or that the Democrats generally do very well in the local elections in Texas. So anyone who concludes that losing these gubernatorial elections will bode well for Republicans in 2012 or even 2010 is simply talking crap.

And of course, even if there was any relation between Obama's presidency and the outcome of these elections, it takes a very slanted perspective to claim that it reflects negatively upon him. The fact that the Democrats are actually competitive in a district they haven't won in a hundred years, that they are competitive in the New Jersey race, which no new President's party has managed to keep hold of in 20 years, a race in which the Democrat candidate has one of the lowest approval ratings of any Governor, if anything, bodes very very well for the Democrats, and very badly for the Republicans who still seem to be facing something of an image crisis. Or at least it would, if there was any relevance whatsoever.

Really this whole concept is just painfully wrong on a number of levels.

EDIT: In case you wanted more proof, exit polls showed that a large majority of voters did not factor Obama into their vote at all. Hasn't stopped the networks from running with this story though.

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