Democrats lost two governorships to the Republicans yesterday, which is the best electoral news for the GOP in five years. However, a Democrat in New York State won a congressional seat that had been held by the Republicans, in an area that, generally, through several redistrictings, had been won by Republicans forever.
Bob McDonnell's victory in Virginia is significant in ending a Democratic winning streak in that state. Last year, Barack Obama was the first Democratic nominee in 44 years to win Virginia's electoral votes. As of 2007, there were two Democratic U.S. senators for the first time in 34 years. And the state had elected Democratic governors in 2001 and 2005.
But, in one sense, Chris Christie's New Jersey win is even more important. Winning only in states such as Virginia would reinforce the impression that the Republican Party is becoming the last thing anyone 50 years ago or so would have thought it would become: a southeastern regional party.
Democrat Bill Owens's victory in the special election in New York's 23rd congressional district, complicates the picture somewhat. Even though runner-up Doug Hoffman was not the Republican nominee, many Republicans supported him, so his defeat needs to be acknowledged as a GOP loss. That will intensify the debate about whether the party should be more ideologically diverse, as it was back in the days when it dominated politics in the northeastern states.
Last night, the White House proudly proclaimed that President Obama was not watching the election returns. If he wants to stay in his current residence after 2013, he might want to reconsider his position on paying attention to what the voters are saying.