Cartoon Punditry

Political spin is akin to cartoons.  Exaggerate a point to make a point.  

Pundits have, clearly, been in acute election withdrawal.  It’s nice to see them get a fix to restore that good old fashion election euphoria, 12 months absent.  Potomac fever will be epidemic by the end of the day.

The election commentary spans the political spectrum, everything from “great victory”, to “pay no attention to the election behind the curtain”.   Virginia, ‘no big deal, off year opposition election victories are consistent history, Deeds was a dope.”  New Jersey; “the incumbent was struck down by the economy.”  “It’s not about the President it’s about local issues.” The losers say “take it with a grain of salt”, the winners say “it’s akin to a message from God.  It quickly approaches the point of distraction as each pundit, in essence, talks to his or her constituency, that constituency longing for reasons in support of pre-existing perceptions and bias.

Polls regarding the President’s popularity are all over the board; selective quotation being the order of the day.  Maybe it was, maybe it was not about the President, but in light his campaign schedule in, at least, N.J., his commitment was clear and expected, he did what he had to do.  In the N.Y. 23rd the President succeeded, with the unwitting help of the GOP, in staging a Democratic victory with an expected life span of about one year.  One more vote in an overwhelming Congressional majority is not significant in light of the ineptitude of the GOP in the N.Y. 23rd.

In Virginia, however, a highly significant issue has failed to garner attention from the pundits, the down ballot voting pattern.  It is clear, that a high degree of straight ticket voting was the order of the day, the Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General’s races pulled numbers in the high 50’s consistent with the head of the ticket.  Republicans made gains in state wide races as well.  That pattern, and the consistency of the pattern, in a purple state, can only occur where independents voted a straight Republican ticket.  Areas, such as Fairfax County, which were overwhelmingly for Obama in 2008, were essentially 50/50 in this election.  That number, in light of the high concentration of government employees in Fairfax County could also be telling we’re you to get beyond the cartoon punditry. 

The consistency of the down ballot patterns in Virginia does reflect on Washington, it has to.  This election represented one of only two opportunities for large voting populations to send a message and it appears that a message has been sent. 

The victims of these patterns, assuming the message is received are fundamentally economic.  Deficits, taxes, spending, the size of government and the inability of voters to perceive high levels of accountability are the issues on the table.  The details of the legislative agenda in 2010 will be held accountable to these general themes.  Most voters think in terms of general themes and context, these issues will clearly form that context. As always, independents, will decide the outcome in 2010 and self described independents are growing faster than either party.   

If the cartoon were to be drawn it would show an independent voter holding back both parties with the caption, “not so fast there big guy.”  It’s a question of who get’s the message and when.