On Tuesday, Terry McAuliffe beat out Ken Cuccinelli by a small margin in Virginia's gubernatorial election, while Chris Christie won in New Jersey. McAuliffe's win can be attributed to large electoral margins among women, African Americans, and Hispanics, said AEI's Norm Ornstein during a post-election Google Hangout on Wednesday morning. Digging deeper into the exit polls, AEI's Andrew Rugg noted that 20 percent of the electorate told exit pollsters that abortion was the most important issue for them during the election, and McAuliffe won these voters by large margins.
AEI's Michael Barone then explained how in New Jersey, Christie managed to win large vote shares among typical Democratic constituencies — self-identified liberals, college postgraduates, those who approve of President Obama's job performance, and supporters of the Affordable Care Act. And Christie generated these numbers despite a majority of the electorate evaluating the New Jersey economy negatively.
AEI's Karlyn Bowman emphasized that off-year electorates tend to be very different than presidential or midterm electorates, and those electorates do not have a great track record of predicting subsequent elections. Panelists concluded that both gubernatorial contests chiefly boiled down to the personalities involved: In the typically blue state of New Jersey, it was about positive perceptions of Chris Christie. In purple Virginia, Cuccinelli's negatives played a large role in his defeat.
The morning after the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections, AEI’s political team will host a Google Hangout on the lessons and implications of the elections.
In Virginia, how much did the contest boil down to the strengths and weaknesses of the two contenders? Will the result say anything about the regional and national strength of tea party? Turning to New Jersey, panelists will examine whether Chris Christie’s expected big win has implications for the state’s 2014 elections.
Entering its 31st season, AEI’s Election Watch series will continue to provide the serious historical insights and current commentary that have made it the longest-running election program in Washington, DC.
Have a question for the panelists? Tweet your questions to @AEI with #ElectionWatch or leave it in the comments section on Google Plus.
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Michael Barone, AEI
Karlyn Bowman, AEI
Norm Ornstein, AEI
Andrew Rugg, AEI
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Michael Barone is senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner and a resident fellow at AEI. He is a contributor to Fox News Channel, author of “Shaping Our Nation: How Surges of Migration Transformed America and Its Politics (Crown Forum, October 2013), and coauthor of “The Almanac of American Politics.” Over the years, he has written for many publications in the United States and several other countries, including The Economist, the Times Literary Supplement, the Daily Telegraph, and the Sunday Times of London. Barone received the Bradley Prize from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in 2010, the Barbara Olsen Award from The American Spectator in 2006, and the Carey McWilliams Award from the American Political Science Association in 1992. Barone lives in Washington, DC. He has traveled to all 50 states and all 435 congressional districts. He has also traveled to 54 foreign countries and has reported on recent elections in Great Britain, Italy, Russia, and Mexico.
Karlyn Bowman compiles and analyzes American public opinion using available polling data on a variety of subjects, including the economy, taxes, the state of workers in America, environment and global warming, attitudes about homosexuality and gay marriage, the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement and free trade, the war in Iraq, and women's attitudes. In addition, she has studied and spoken about the evolution of American politics because of key demographic and geographic changes. She has often lectured on the role of think tanks in the United States.
Norman J. Ornstein is a long-time observer of the US Congress and politics. He writes a weekly column for Roll Call called “Congress Inside Out,” and is an election evening analyst for CBS News. He also served as co-director of the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project and served as a senior counselor to the Continuity of Government Commission. Ornstein led a working group of scholars and practitioners that helped shape the law known as McCain-Feingold, which reformed the campaign financing system. He was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004. His many books include “The Permanent Campaign and Its Future” (AEI Press, 2000), “The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track” (with Thomas Mann, Oxford University Press, 2006) and, most recently, The New York Times bestseller “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism” (with Thomas Mann, Basic Books, May 2012).
Andrew Rugg is a research assistant in AEI’s Political Corner, where he studies polling, demographics, and Congress. He is an editor of AEI’s monthly Political Report, host of AEI’s Banter podcast series, and author of the recently released e-book “Five Years After the Crash: What Americans Think about Wall Street, Banks, Business, and Free Enterprise” (AEI Press, September 2013).