Posted by Audiegrl
538/Nate Silver—The outcome of all seven contests that we were tracking tonight appears settled, or very nearly so:
Virginia Governor: Republican Bob McDonnell wins by 17 points, toward the upper end of the range predicted by the pollsters, although not to anybody’s great surprise. Democrats had major turnout problems here; exit polls show that the electorate which turned out in Virginia supported McCain in last year’s election 51-43, almost exactly the opposite of the actual margin.But Deeds also appears to have been the weaker candidate. The electorate was roughly spit on approval of Obama, but 20 percent of those who approved Obama nevertheless voted for McDonnell, while just 5 percent of those who disapproved Obama voted for Deeds.
New Jersey Governor: Republican Chris Christie wins 49-45. We had (somewhat tentatively) characterized the race as leaning Christie on the basis of superior enthusiasm and the incumbent rule. Corzine never polled at better than 44 percent in any individual poll of the race. It looked for a time like 44 or 45 percent might nevertheless have been enough to win him the election, but support for the third party candidate Chris Daggett collapsed, leaving him exposed.Obama approval was actually pretty strong in New Jersey, at 57 percent, but 27 percent of those who approved of Obama nevertheless voted for someone other than Corzine. This one really does appear to be mostly about Corzine being an unappealing candidate, as the Democrats look like they’ll lose just one or two seats in the state legislature in Trenton. Corzine compounded his problems by staying negative until the bitter end of the campaign rather than rounding out his portfolio after having closed the margin with Christie.
NY-23: Democrat Bill Owens prevails in a result that will be regarded as surprising; the final tally isn’t in yet but it appears as though it will be something on theorder of 50-45 over Conservative Doug Hoffman. I don’t think I’ve ever hedged more on predicting the outcome of a race; the main issue is that there was a rather large discrepancy between the polling, which heavily favored Hoffman, and what I perceived to be the facts on the ground. NY-23 is solidly Republican but not especially conservative (it voted for Barack Obama last year), and Hoffman was a relatively uncharismatic candidate with poor command of the local issues.
If New Jersey was a win for the incumbent rule, then NY-23 may have ben a win for the Median voter theorem, as Owens — a conservative Democrat — was actually much closer to the average ideology of the district than the capital-C Conservative Hoffman. It was also a reminder that all politics is local (sometimes). More than 95 percent of Hoffman’s contributions came from out-of-district, and the conservative activists who tried to brand him as a modern-day Jefferson Smith never bothered to check whether he resonated particularly well with the zeitgeist of the district. In any event, this is a Democratic takeover of a GOP-held seat and they expand by one their majority in the House.