State of the Races

Conservatives Run Amok

Sure, the vast majority of Americans aren’t voting on Tuesday, but broadly speaking, the elections will lend some insight into the state of the nation. Between Virginia and New Jersey's high-octane races for governor, congressional battles in New York and California, and mayorships at stake in New York City and Atlanta, the elections may tell how well Obama's coalition is holding. A combination of new votes—particularly black and Hispanic populations from the Democratic base, disaffected Republicans, and independents—swept Obama to power, but it's unclear whether the same voters will turn out to support Criegh Deeds, who is far behind in Virginia, or Jon Corzine in his close New Jersey race. On the conservative side, there's some evidence that Republicans aren't in control of their base. Liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava exited the race in New York's 23rd district after a conservative third-party candidate, split her vote. Her subsequent endorsement of the Democratic candidate has helped stoke partisan fire, but that same fire has the capacity to burn down the establishment. According to Politico, grass-roots activists "are ready to turn their fire on Republicans in a host of races across the country."