At the polls in early November, New York City voters chose a mayor, while Virginia and New Jersey elected and re-elected governors. The elections offer a glimpse of the state of American politics just a year before the 2014 midterm elections, in which politicians will vie for control of the House of Representatives, one third of the Senate, and the governorships of thirty-six states. The effects of this month’s voting could even resonate into the 2016 race for president.
In a landslide victory, progressive Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio won New York City’s mayoral election with 78% of the vote, easily defeating Republican challenger Joe Lhota. De Blasio, the city’s former public advocate, will replace current mayor and business mogul Michael Bloomberg, whose third consecutive term concludes at the end of 2013. De Blasio will be the first Democrat to serve as mayor of New York City in two decades. The win comes after de Blasio barely scraped enough votes in the Democratic primary to run as the party’s candidate. His campaign, which prominently featured his biracial family, relied on job growth and social justice issues.
New Jersey’s governor Chris Christie was re-elected as expected, winning the popular vote in all but two of the state’s 21 counties. Christie’s Democratic competitor for the governorship, Barbara Buono, was unable to undermine the goodwill Christie gained for his handling of the devastation after 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, which destroyed much of the state’s coastline. The triumphant re-election, in which Christie drew support from moderates and independents in addition to Republicans, could bolster Christie’s chances should he run for president in 2016. Currently one of the most conspicuous possible candidates, Christie was already the subject of much speculation leading up to the 2012 presidential election, despite repeatedly insisting that he would not run.
In Virginia, the governor’s race was significantly closer as Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, narrowly defeated Ken Cuccinelli. McAuliffe won with 48% of the vote, a smaller margin than expected. He is former chair of both President Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election and Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. Especially given such close ties to the Clintons, McAuliffe’s victory could bolster the chances of Virginia voting Democratic in 2016’s presidential election.
Fingers were pointed within the Republican party almost immediately as the GOP searched for someone to blame for the defeat of the resolutely conservative Cuccinelli, previously a state senator and attorney general. Libertarian Robert Sarvis, a third-party candidate who garnered 7% of the vote, likely drew enough votes away from Cuccinelli to cost him the election. Cuccinelli’s and McAuliffe’s campaigns both suffered from national issues. Cuccinelli faced backlash over his support of the Republican-affiliated Tea Party, which many blamed for the federal government’s October shutdown. McAuliffe, on the other hand, was tied to the disastrous rollout of the Obamacare website.
Other election results from November include Detroit electing its first white mayor in 40 years, Colorado approving a tax on recreational marijuana, and minimum wage raises in New Jersey and a Seattle, WA suburb.
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