A Republican Strategist’s Take
I just spoke to a smart one. He argues that the Virginia governor’s race offers more lessons for Republicans than either the New Jersey race (because there was an incumbent on whom it was a referendum) or the New York congressional race (because its circumstances were too odd). One of the lessons he draws is that Republican candidates have to “finish the sentence.” Instead of just saying that we have to keep taxes and spending low, and thus pleasing conservatives, he said, McDonnell explain how these policies would create jobs and “plug the hole in Richmond.” Too many Republican candidates, he says, forget to do that.
He pours cold water on the idea that the elections were a referendum on Obama. “Obama’s numbers in Virginia are not that bad. He’s not upside-down, that’s for sure.” (That is, more people rate him favorably than unfavorably.) “I guarantee you that McDonnell got a lot of votes from people who approve of [the job Obama is doing].” He takes the vote to be a rejection of many of Obama’s policies. But he adds, “I don’t think that Republicans should come away from this and think that all that we have to do in 2010 is run against Obama. McDonnell had a very vigorous policy agenda.”