Four marquee elections in New Jersey, New York, California, and Virginia are set for Tuesday. Republicans- looking to define the contests as indicative of a shift in the national mood in their favor- need to win to prove it. And Democrats need a win just as badly to put the arduous months of the early fall behind them.
New Jersey Gubernatorial
Despite trailing by as many as 13 points (according to the RealClearPolitics Average), incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine has rebounded significantly to pull even with Republican former US Attorney Chris Christie. What had been a bitter campaign saw Corzine spend more than $20 million of his own money. In the last week, Corzine has posted poll numbers showing him even pulling ahead of Christie, though never outside of the respective study's margin of error. If the current trend holds, Corzine is headed for a win in the Garden State. Prediction: Leans Democrat
New York 23 Special Election
Empire State Governor David Paterson called a special election to replace longtime New York Republican Congressman John McHugh, who was tapped by the Obama Administration to become Secretary of the Navy. The race has essentially been dominated by an apparent schism in the GOP. Moderate state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzofava won the Republican nomination, only to get battered from the conservative wing of her own party. Conservatives nationwide began looking toward a third-party candidate to take the reigns. Doug Hoffman was nominated by the Conservative Party, and quickly gained traction. An endorsement by Sarah Palin jump-started the drive, and Hoffman's campaign attracted other national conservative figures. Eventually overtaking Scozzofava by a slim margin, the race became a three-way contest between she, Hoffman, and Democrat Bill Owens. Feeling the heat of drooping poll numbers, Scozzofava withdrew from the race, leaving just Owens and Hoffman to battle it out. The race will be entirely dependent on how the centrist Scozzofava's supporters break. Prediction: Tossup
California 10 Special Election
The race for the CA-10 congressional seat might be the most straightforward of the bunch. Former Rep. Ellen Tauscher held the seat comfortably for 12 years before resigning earlier this year to become Under Secretary of State for International Arms Control and International Security Affairs. After some earlier jockying from a few state legislators, Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi entered the race as the 800-pound gorilla (he dropped a bid he had been considering for Governor). Garamendi won the Democratic nomination with 50% more than his next Democratic opponent. In the general election matchup, he faces David Harmer, the son of a former Republican Lieutenant Governor. Garamendi is favored by double-digit margins, according to a Survey USA poll released earlier this week. Prediction: Safe Democrat
Despite overcoming former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe in the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, state Senator Creigh Deeds saw his campaign become anemic shortly into the general election. The Washington Post unearthed a graduate school thesis by his opponenet, Republican Attorney General Bob McDonnell, asserting (among other things) that families are harmed by women in the workplace. Still, McDonnell surged ahead, and today has a 15-point lead over Deeds, according to the RCP Average. Prediction: Safe Republican