Republican political strategists, assuming there are still any out there with enough gray matter to quality for the job, head back to the drawing board today after they big plans to use a New York special election to stop the Obama juggernaut fell flat on its ass.
Instead of putting a Republican back into a seat that should have been an easy win, the GOP found itself 65 votes down and headed for a recount in a district where most of the voters identify themselves as members of the party of the elephant.
Republicans thought they had a chance to use the election as a referendum on Obama’s policies. Instead it became another setback for the party where failure appears to be the only option.
There’s no winner yet in the Upstate New York special election and it might be mid-April before the race is settled. But a few things are clearer after Tuesday’s contest, none of it welcome news to the Republican Party.
The first election to take place during the Obama administration was a push, with neither side winning big or losing big. But that in itself ranks as a defeat of sorts for the GOP, which invested heavily in the race.
Republicans made this race a referendum on President Obama, his stimulus plan and big government policies. But voters divided almost exactly down the middle, showing almost no sign they wanted to brush back the new administration. And this is precisely the kind of place where it would have been obvious had voters been so inclined—a Republican-leaning, small-town district that voted for Obama in 2008.
Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, the Democratic National Committee chairman, was quick to frame the race as a validation of Obama administration policies.
“Scott Murphy embraced President Obama’s message of change and his plans to fix our economy and create jobs, and as a result he stormed from more than 20 points down to winning a majority of votes cast tonight,” Kaine said in a statement.