Wake-Up Call for Democrats

It can be dangerous to over- or under-interpret Tuesday’s election results. While Politico said that neither the Virginia nor the New Jersey race could be called a referendum on Obama, Democrats' loss was "humiliating" and "emphatically not in Obama's favor." Democrats with formerly Republican congressional seats who are up for reelection in 2010 ought to pay close attention, because many of their districts—located in the southern and border states, or the Ohio River Valley—have political conditions similar to Virginia. Overall, independents jumped ship from the Democratic Party, but rather than revealing a partisan verdict, the elections, particularly the Democrats' consolation prize in New York's 23rd House district "revealed a deeply aggrieved electorate" that is "ready to rough up incumbents of all varieties." The electorate's sea-change may have repercussions for current political debates—Obama could have a tougher time convincing moderate Democrats to support liberal priorities such as an expanded government role in health care.