Congratulations to new governors elect Tim Kaine and John Corzine. Much will be spun on potentential national implications, with Dems saying these were referendums on Bush and the Republicans, Republicans saying they hinged on local concerns in VA or that Forrester ran a bad campaign in NJ. And both sides are right.
But for a "purer" indication of what today's elections mean, we'll probably need to wait until later Wednesday, when we can get a full accounting for what happened in the legislative races. In 2004 Democrats posted a national net gain of 64 legislative seats, and flipped control of more chambers than the Republicans. When you compensate for the Texas redistricting, the Congressional outcome was a net zero. We lost Seats in the Senate, but in places where Dems haven't done well in Presidential years, primarily in the South. And an incumbent President barely topped 50%. Hardly a transforming election in terms of the message from the electorate.
But we're probably coming up on a major, landmark election. It won't be a transforming election like we had in the period of 1932-36. But it could certainly be an election that breaks the back of the majority party's momentum, like 1966 when the backlash against LBJ cut short the Great Society reforms, or 1938 when FDR's court packing ended the Second New Deal. But unlike those elections, when Dems lost dozens of Congressional seats but still easily held control (because their majorities were over 100 seats), this would be a backlash against a narrow majority that acted like they had a 100 seat majority when in fact it's majority was only 30 seats.
An early indicator of whether we're on pace for a landmark election will be the legislative races. Dems hold both chambers of the NJ legislature, Repubs both chambers of the VA legislature. There's almost no way the VA House of Delegates will flip; the Republican held a 61-37 majority. But Kagro X's whack-job delegate lost in previously solidly Republican Loudoun County, and he lost big, so it's possible the Republican majority could be dramatically cut. And if we see significant losses--like a Dem gain of more than 6-8 seats--it would be safe to say the Republican troubles went beyond a bad campaign or weak candidate at the top of the ticket. In New Jersey, where Dem troubles with corruption charges stemming back to the McGreevey administration administration were supposed to hurt Corzine, any gains would probably hold significant meaning.
So, celebrate a nice pair of top-of-the-ticket wins in the gubernatorial races, and a very heartening win for gay rights in Maine. But if you want to know if there was any significant national meaning in Tuesday's results, look for those legislative results.