â€śIn focus groups, especially among Independent voters, people will say they voted [last year] for Obama and a Democratic candidate, and theyâ€™re still rooting for Obama, but have real reservations over bailouts, the stimulus, and especially the spending,â€ť he explains.
The takeaway for the Republican Party, he adds, will be to find mainstream conservatives, like Governors-elect Bob McDonnell of Virginia and Chris Christie of New Jersey, who eschewed, choosing instead to focus on the issues that weigh most heavily on votersâ€™ minds: jobs and the economy. And instead of maintaining a reputation as the party of no, Republican lawmakers will have to put out their own ideas on issues like healthcare.
Rep. Artur Davis (D-Alabama), who has launched a campaign for the governorâ€™s mansion in his home state, argues that the results were based solely on the individual candidates and local circumstances. New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, he says, was viewed as unsuccessful and Creigh Deeds simply was unable to capture the imaginations of the voters in Virginia.
Pointing to the surprisingly close race between New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and opponent Bill Thompson, the cityâ€™s former comptroller, Davis says, â€śIf the Democratic Party had been fully engaged in New York and put some money into it, it could have been the upset of the century. So the reality is donâ€™t think you can take very much from yesterday.â€ť
Analysts were also keeping a close eye on the special election in New Yorkâ€™s 23rd District, which, surprisingly, Democrat Bill Owens won. According to David Bositis, senior research analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, heâ€™s the first to win that district since 1782.
â€śIt was the one race that clearly had national implications and Owens campaigned on healthcare reform,â€ť says Bositis. He believes that derails Republican assertions that voters are disgruntled with the Democratic agenda, arguing instead that itâ€™s just been a bad year for incumbents.
Still, he adds, there are lessons for Democrats to learn. â€śThey need to pass healthcare reform because theyâ€™ll be in trouble if they donâ€™t. People will think theyâ€™re ineffectual and wonâ€™t vote for them,â€ť Bositis cautions. â€śAnd even more t than before, they need to time themselves to Obama.