On the home page of the Washington Post website this morning, the headline for liberal columnist Ruth Marcus is "Ignore the hype." Inside the newspaper, it's "As Virginia goes, not so much." Marcus advises that this GOP landslide is all some meaningless fairy tale:
Advice to readers about the coming orgy of analysis about the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial elections: Ignore it. Disquisitions on The Meaning of It All for President Obama or the 2009 results as a harbinger for Congress in 2010 have scant basis in reality.
Over-interpreting election results is an occupational hazard for political reporters. This problem is particularly acute in the year after a presidential contest, when we are suffering from a bad case of electoral withdrawal.
Marcus marshals some numbers to argue that governor's races in Virginia and New Jersey are not always great predictors of midterm and presidential elections to come. Let's stipulate that for a second, but ask: doesn't it also argue that reporters may have over-interpreted the mandate and charisma of Barack Hussein Obama?
Is it possible that Obama's 52.7 percent victory wasn't exactly a political juggernaut, and that his voters might vanish when he's not in the ballot? If that's true, do Democrats really have support for their policies, or just an empty crush on Obama's rhetorical performances?
Marcus seems to be warning her fellow liberals in the press corps to stay away from assigning any momentum to the Republicans, in case it stymies all the liberal "progress" Marcus and her colleagues want. She's trying to marshal facts, but ends up emotional and dismissive: we never really had Virginia anyway.
So it's possible, for example, that Obama's performance has turned off some of the Virginians who voted for him last year and played a role in the race between Democrat R. Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell. But Deeds was a lousy candidate, McDonnell a far more adept one. Virginia is a purple state, but purple with a decidedly reddish tinge.
Also left unsaid: if Deeds was a "lousy candidate," why did The Washington Post endorse him over other Democrats?