Thursday, October 31, 2013

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Forecasts Of The 2013 Off-Year Elections

The off-year elections of 2013, on their face, do not offer
much suspense or promise of trends for next year’s
very important national mid-term elections.

One of these elections has been already held. In New Jersey,
Democratic Newark Mayor Cory Booker won a U.S. senate
seat in a special election to fill the vacancy created by the
passing of the Democratic incumbent. Booker won easily,
but not by the margin many had expected in this usually
very liberal state. Next week, in the off-year general
election, incumbent Republican Governor Chris Christie
is expected to win in a landslide against a weak opponent.
That, of course, will be no surprise, but readers should
pay attention to results in the New Jersey legislative races
that same day. If Christie’s coattails lead to a pick-up of
one or both houses of the New Jersey legislature, that
could be significant news.

In Virginia, controversial Democratic nominee Terry
McAuliffe has been leading in polls for months.
Considering his campaign funds advantage (more than
ten to one), he is expected to win. But controversial
Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli has, in most latest
polls, been narrowing the gap. A third candidate,
a libertarian, has in polls been getting about 10% of the
vote, but that is expected to recede on election day, and
technically, Cuccinelli could win. The key to the polls
published in this race is the partisan make-up of the
polling sample. (This was especially true in the 2012
national elections.) Both former President Bill Clinton
and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,
have been among the big national names who have
come in to campaign for McAuliffe, President Obama is
expected to come in before election day. Cuccinelli has
not been able to muster either the financial or big-name
firepower of his opponent. But what has perhaps made this
race a bit more competitive is the just-before-the-election
national collapse of the Democratic Obamacare reform.
If this diminishes Democratic turnout, and provokes
higher GOP turnout, and the third party candidate
receives less than 5% of the final vote, this race could be
closer than now expected, although a Cuccinelli win is

The race for mayor of New York City seems to be a
foregone conclusion. The eras of Republican Mayor Rudy
Giuliani and independent centrist Mayor Michael
Bloomberg will be over on January 1, and a very liberal
Democrat, City Ombusdman Bill de Blasio will take over
in the nation’s largest city. He has pledged to raise the
income taxes of higher income New Yorkers, he opposes
charter schools in the city, and he has been very critical of
Mayor Bloomberg’s housing, education and police
security policies. Some observers contend that if de Blasio
reverses many of the reforms and policies of the
two mayors who preceded him, and he has indicated
that he will, New York could be in for fiscal and community
security problems on a major scale in the next four years.
The polls, however, indicate a huge landslide for De Blasio
in the 2013 election.

There are other races of minor interest in 2013, including
the mayoral election in Minneapolis where the latest
ranked-choice experiment at the polls has provoked 35
candidates on the ballot, and not a little confusion among
local voters.

With no true surprises expected this year, political
observers will no doubt attempt to parse turnout nuances
for portents about next year’s election.

With the recent government shutdown and latest debt
ceiling deadline crisis probably already forgotten by voters,
primarily replaced by the news of the chaotic meltdown of
the initial Obamacare implementation, interpreting the 2013
elections for trends might be difficult and perilous.

Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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