Last night’s election exhibited two trends: one positive for the country as a whole, and one more ominous for Democrats. Firstly, Americans rejected negative campaigning and extremism – whether it be in Virginia, New Jersey, NY-23, or Maine. Secondly, the electorate as a whole shifted quite profoundly to the right. This post will focus on the first aspect.
Negative Campaigning and Extremism
In the four most-watched races, voters chose the side that espoused moderation and ran a positive message. The Democratic candidates in both Virginia and New Jersey focused on the negative: state congressman Creigh Deeds of Virginia spent most of his time attacking Attorney General Bob McDonnell’s college thesis, while Governor Jon Corzine of New Jersey launched a barrage of negative ads. Both candidates lost.
The other two races featured the victory of moderate politics over extremism. In NY-23, a Republican-represented district since the Civil War, conservatives sabotaged the moderate Republican candidate in favor of hard-line Doug Hoffman. Fortunately, voters in upstate New York rejected the Glenn Beck nominee and instead chose Democrat Bill Owens, an independent turned Democrat.
While conservative-leaning NY-23 rebuffed conservative extremism, the deep-blue state of Maine featured a rejection of liberal extremism. Out-of-touch state legislators had approved a law supporting homosexual marriage – a extremist initiative rejected in every single state that put it to the vote, including liberal California and Oregon. The good people of Maine, agreeing with their fellow Americans, soundly supported the moderate position of traditional marriage.
Voters in Maine also flocked to the more positive campaign. Hard-line liberals ran a campaign implying that those who disagreed with homosexual marriage constituted bigots; they spoke of a national wave, devised by the media, elite judges and politicians that would legalize homosexual marriage, “whether you like it or not.” This arrogance did not play well with the good folk of Maine.
Thus the election results enforced a positive trend in politics – one of moderation and positive campaigning focused on the issues, rather than divisive personal attacks. For Democrats like myself, however, the other trend – a rightward shift – is more worrisome.