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Does Last Night Actually Say Anything About Obama?

So, last night, Republican Bob McDonnell cruised to victory for governor of Virginia over Democrat Creigh Deeds in a purple state that went for Barack Obama last year. Republican Chris Christie pulled out a win against incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine in New Jersey, despite Obama’s frequent visits to the reliably blue state on behalf of Corzine. And in upstate New York, Democrat Bill Owens defeated Conservative Doug Hoffman in a congressional district that went for Obama in 2008, but hasn’t sent a Democrat to Congress in over 100 years. But nobody cares what these results mean for the individual victors except for their staffs and wives. Everyone is more concerned with figuring out what they say about one formerly invincible man — President Obama.

• Chuck Todd and friends write that “last night wasn’t a referendum on Obama,” but the Democrats lost independents, and the base is “no longer fired up and ready to go.” One interesting tidbit from the exit polls: “51% of yesterday’s voters in Virginia said they voted for McCain, while just 43% said they voted for Obama. Folks, Obama won this state last year by a nearly 53%-46% margin.” [First Read/MSNBC]

• Glenn Reynolds believes “the elections underscored Obama’s political weakness just one year after his triumphant victory over Republican moderate John McCain.” For members of Congress, “the lesson of this week is that Obama can’t save their seats if the public is unhappy (and, equally, that Obama probably can’t hurt them much, either). So what Obama wants is nice, but it’s what the voters in their districts want that will control.” [NYP]

• Marc Ambinder thinks simply that “Obama’s political coalition is not invincible and it is not perpetual. The Obama election didn’t changed the fundamental political dynamics of off-year elections.” [Atlantic]

• Karen Tumulty thinks the lesson here is that “Barack Obama’s popularity — or his political operation — do not transfer when he is not on the ballot. This election could make Democrats more attuned to the political rhythms of their home states, and less willing to take risks.” [Swampland/Time]

• Nate Silver writes that this year, all politics really were local. Obama “took a risk — a bad one, indeed — by campaigning on behalf of Corzine,” but it was ultimately Corzine that voters didn’t like, not Obama. [CNN]

• Ruth Marcus doesn’t think the election results say much about either “Congress in 2010 or Obama in 2012.” [WP]

• Mark Preston believes that losses in New Jersey and Virginia “should not be interpreted as a significant blow to President Obama,” since “56 percent of Virginians said that the president was not a factor when it came down to their vote” and “that number increased to 60 percent” in New Jersey. [CNN]

• Allahpundit looks at the exit polls and opines, “You would think that a guy who appeared multiple times on the trail in two states that he carried just a year ago could generate enough excitement that the number who voted to show some support for him would exceed the number who voted to show opposition. But you would be wrong, wouldn’t you?” [Hot Air]

• Michael Tomasky says we haven’t learned “very much, really” about Obama’s “political health.” That Obama couldn’t save Corzine “does tell us that some of that 2008 lustre is gone,” but at the same time, the exit polls confirmed that Obama was not a real factor, and we also have to consider that both Corzine and Deeds “happened to be bad candidates.” In the end, Obama “still is not as despised as the right wing thinks he ought to be.” [Guardian UK]

• John Dickerson calls it “a stretch” that voters in New Jersey and Virginia were reacting to Obama. “Each race had local issues — taxes in New Jersey and transportation in Virginia — and flawed candidates. By clear majorities, voters in New Jersey and Virginia said they weren’t basing their decisions on the president.” But it also wasn’t a “good night” for Obama, because it showed he can’t necessarily help or protect endangered Democrats, which will make them “feel less compelled to vote with him.” [Slate]

• Jonah Goldberg agrees that last night’s results may have been rooted in more of an “anti-incumbency,” and not anti-Obama, sentiment. “But if all Barack Obama’s personal popularity is good for is getting gushing profiles of his wife in supermarket magazines, ‘buck up camper’ essays in Newsweek and the Nobel Prize for bring hope to Norway and Sweden, that’s okay with me.” [Corner/National Review]

Does Last Night Actually Say Anything About Obama?