USA Today: “McAuliffe's victory in the key swing state was an affirmation of his strategy to portray Cuccinelli, the state attorney general, as a Tea Party champion who is too extreme for Virginia. … New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie won re-election in a race seen mainly as the kickoff for the next one: the popular Republican is considered a good bet to run for president in 2016.”
Washington Post's Dan Balz: "Tuesday’s elections, which produced a resounding Republican victory in New Jersey and a dispiriting loss for the GOP in Virginia, highlighted the challenges ahead for a badly divided party — and will probably intensify an internal debate about how to win back the White House in 2016."
NBC's Michael O'Brien: Republican Gov. Chris Christie "cruised to victory with an impressive coalition of New Jersey voters demonstrating crossover outside of the GOP that very few Republicans have shown in recent national elections. His success stands in contrast to the contest in Virginia, where Democrat Terry McAuliffe bested state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican whom half of Virginia voters said was too conservative after he spent years cozying up to the Tea Party and its unflinching conservatism. Though Cuccinelli managed a closer-than-expected showing against McAuliffe, his long history of social conservatism contributed to a poor showing with women voters, particularly those who support abortion rights. And last month’s government shutdown, a strategy backed by fellow conservatives in Congress, almost certainly doomed Cuccinelli in vote-rich Northern Virginia – an area heavily dependent on federal spending."
Susan Page: “As voters in some states cast ballots Tuesday, warning signs flared for Tea Party forces and the Democratic Party about their prospects in the broader and more critical midterm elections precisely one year from now.” More: “Tea Party nemesis Chris Christie swept to a landslide re-election as governor in New Jersey, a case study in how more moderate Republicans can carry even Democratic-leaning states. Tea Party favorite Ken Cuccinelli lost a closer race against Democrat Terry McAuliffe for governor in Virginia, a contest establishment Republicans thought they could have won with a more mainstream candidate. Still, Democrats saw looming problems of their own on the horizon — not so much in returns from the off-year elections but in the roiling furor over the flawed rollout of the federal health care exchange.”
Turnout in Virginia was up over 2009. Total raw turnout was: 2,215,126 or 42.3%, which falls in between the 40% in 2009 and the 45% in 2005.
Both attorney general candidates – Mark Obenshain (R) and Mark Herring (D) got more votes than McAuliffe and Cuccinelli, and the vote counting’s not quite done in that race. In fact, Ralph Northam, who won the lieutenant governor’s race, won the most votes last night of anyone. You can chalk it up to a third-party candidate in the governor’s race, who got the third-most Libertarian votes in a governor’s race anywhere, but still, it’s hard not to see that as a reflection of what was at the top of the ticket.
In rank order, here are the votes from last night:
ALABAMA: Roll Call: "Former state Sen. Bradley Byrne defeated tea-party-backed candidate Dean Young in a special GOP runoff in Alabama’s 1st District on Tuesday, marking the first big win for more moderate Republicans in the fight for control of the GOP since the government shutdown....The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business-oriented groups, such as TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts’ Ending Spending PAC, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the final days of the contest to ensure a Byrne victory."
KENTUCKY: Washington Post: "A super PAC supporting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) reelection campaign is up with a significant ad buy attaching Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes to President Obama's now-debunked claims about his health-care law. The Kentuckians for Strong Leadership ad begins with video of Obama saying that people who liked their health insurance plans could keep them. The claim has since been roundly criticized and rated as false by fact-checkers. The ad buy is $340,000 statewide on broadcast and cable TV, according to the super PAC's senior adviser, Scott Jennings."
NBC’s Kasie Hunt reports that Kentucky Senate Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes' campaign is out with a new memo trying to cast Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as an unpopular incumbent facing an expensive primary in a conservative state that still maintains a tradition of electing Democrats to statewide office. And the campaign argues that Grimes will benefit this time around because President Barack Obama isn't on the ballot. Last time around, in 2008, "the in-state unpopularity of the top of the ticket impacted the U.S. Senate race, allowing Senator McConnell to hold his seat with just over a five percent margin -- the slimmest margin since his first reelection bid in 1990," Grimes adviser Jonathan Hurst writes.
MASSACHUSETTS: The Boston Globe: “Martin J. Walsh, a legislator and long-time labor leader, ground out a narrow victory over City Councilor John R. Connolly Tuesday to become Boston’s 48th mayor, propelled by a diverse coalition that transcended geography, race, and ideology.”
MICHIGAN: Detroit News: "Mike Duggan overcame questions about his outsider status to become Detroit’s first white mayor in about four decades, beating Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon on Tuesday in a campaign about who could best revitalize a failing city. For Duggan, born in Detroit but who lived much of his life in the western Wayne County suburb of Livonia, it was a victory rooted in his turnaround persona that may also reflect a move away from decades of racial politics."
NEW JERSEY: The Star-Ledger’s Jenna Portnoy: “Last year, Chris Christie was elected chairman of the Republican Governors Association and he officially takes over that post in Arizona in 15 days. It’s a position with a high national profile, money to spread around and a bully pulpit. So, in way, Christie’s power just doubled. Friends of Christie and people who have watched him in action the past year say that from now on Super Gov. will be urging his party to do what he says, and do as he does: Win. He will also have a lofty place from which to wage a run for the White House. Thirty-six governors are up for election next year, and that adds up to a lot of face time across the nation.”
Asbury Park Press: “New Jersey voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday to raise the minimum wage by $1, to $8.25 an hour, and add automatic cost-of-living increases each year.”
The Star-Ledger: “Democrats in the state Senate and Assembly withstood Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s decisive victory over Barbara Buono on Tuesday, retaining majorities in both houses of the Legislature and ensuring at least four more years of divided government in Trenton. With most of the votes counted Tuesday night, Democrats said they would hold onto their 24-16 majority in the state Senate. They also appeared to hold a majority in the Assembly — currently 48 to 32 — though they lost at least one seat.”
There was at least one major Democratic upset in New Jersey, in which an openly gay, white Republican ousted the favored black incumbent mayor of Atlantic City.
The Bergen Record: “In a concession speech delivered less than an hour after polls closed, State Sen. Barbara Buono went after a state Democratic party that offered her little help in her campaign. She thanked supporters who ‘withstood the onslaught of betrayal from our own political party,’ and she chafed at New Jersey’s ‘good old boy machine politics.’ ‘The Democratic political bosses, some elected and some not, made a deal with this governor,’ she said. ‘They didn’t do it for the state. They did it out of a desire to help themselves.’”
NEW YORK: New York Daily News: “With 97% of the precincts reporting, de Blasio held a commanding lead of 74% to 24% — the largest margin of victory by a nonincumbent in any mayor’s race in city history.”
VIRGINIA: Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Democrat Terry McAuliffe narrowly won the Virginia governorship Tuesday night, defeating Republican Ken Cuccinelli and bucking a trend of Virginia voters since 1976 electing a governor of the opposite political party the year after a president’s election. McAuliffe’s victory also marks the first time since Reconstruction that a political party has held Virginia’s governorship for only one term.”
The Virginian-Pilot: “For months, polling showed McAuliffe significantly leading Cuccinelli, who appeared to close that gap by turning his late-race focus to the disastrous rollout of the federal health care act.” More: “Winning the state’s top job as well as the office of lieutenant governor gives Democrats, who already hold Virginia’s two U.S. Senate seats, newfound power in state government. That’s a dramatic shift from the status quo in which the GOP has held the top three offices and, for the past two years, had effective control of the General Assembly.”
The Washington Post: “Republicans appeared poised on Tuesday to maintain their robust advantage in the Virginia House of Delegates, seeming to withstand a push by Democrats to gain significant ground in the far reaches of the D.C. suburbs and other parts of the state. But with a handful of races still very close, it remained unclear whether Democrats could gain extra committee assignments or the additional seats they need to prevent Republicans from overturning gubernatorial vetoes. At least one contest — the 86th District race between Republican incumbent Thomas Davis Rust (Fairfax) and his Democratic challenger, Jennifer Boysko — appeared that it could go to a state-funded recount because the unofficial margin was less than half a percent. With all precincts reporting, Rust held a 56-vote lead.”
Beth Reinhard: “Hillary Clinton supporters are crowing that helping to install Democrat Terry McAuliffe as the next governor of Virginia puts her one battleground state closer to the White House in 2016. While drawing broad conclusions from off-year political race can be dangerous, there are signs that McAuliffe's victory offers Clinton reasons for optimism if she runs for president.”