November 4th, 2009
09:34 AM ET
9 years ago

Analysis: Elections not a referendum on Obama

Were the 2009 elections really a referendum on President Obama?

Were the 2009 elections really a referendum on President Obama?

Washington (CNN) - Victories in New Jersey and Virginia Tuesday provided a major shot in the arm for the Republican Party heading into the 2010 elections, but the Democratic losses of these two governorships should not be interpreted as a significant blow to President Obama.

While the economy and jobs were the chief concern for voters in both states, 26 percent of New Jersey residents said property taxes was also a major issue, while another 20 percent mentioned corruption, according to CNN exit polling. In a similar CNN survey taken in Virginia, health care was the most important issue for 24 percent of the voters, while 15 percent named taxes and transportation was mentioned by 7 percent.

Further proof that this election was not solely focused on Obama, 56 percent of Virginians said that the president was not a factor when it came down to their vote. In New Jersey, that number increased to 60 percent of the people who went to the polls on Tuesday.

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Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (154 Responses)
  1. Mark

    It has to be some sort of referendum considering how much Obama campaigned for Corzine. Yet, Corzine still lost and lost bigtime. No Obama coattails.

    November 4, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  2. LacrosseDaddy

    Nice spin CNN. I like how NONE of their headlines at the moment say anything about the elections, and go figure their ticker headline is about Palin. Good game CNN

    November 4, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  3. Jeffer65

    How does this help the Republicans win back seats in Congress next year?

    November 4, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  4. Bev

    Those who are saying that this is not a referendum on Obama are crazy.

    Based on analysis by "real", unbiased political experts.........The majority of Independents in both Virginia and New Jersey-- do not support Obama, Democrats, their policies, and the direction that they are taking our country. These Independents voted for the Republicans in both elections-–and all other elections in Virginia as well.

    Also, there were strong Democrat districts in Virginia and New Jersey--that for the first time in history-–overwhelmingly voted for the Republicans-–based on the economy, jobs, etc.

    These elections were definitely a referendum on Obama, Pelosi, Reid, their policies--and what they are trying to do to our country.

    November 4, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  5. Bubba

    I love how every tea party, tug-of-war, or tit-flash is a "referendum on Obama," because he's black. Get over it, folks. He's just a president, not the advance guard of a huge race war or al-Qaeda takeover. What are you people smoking anyway?

    November 4, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  6. Aviva

    Yes, it is a referendum.

    November 4, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  7. Michael-SC

    if this partisanship goes on, nothing will ever be done in congress unless one party gets 65 members.
    This is unlikely to happen so why not close down congress and send all members of congress as well as all lobbyists home?
    With the partisanship, they are useless and a waste of taxpayers money.
    Not much they agree on anymore except: Lets start a war/pre-emptive strike with somebody. Seems to be only thing congress can agree on if presented with faulty information and lobbied. Halliburton, who shall we attack next or shall we ask Dick Cheney?

    November 4, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  8. Tony Vella

    All of the News station are selling this as It was all local it was not local don't fool yourself !! If the Demo's keep this up they will all be out if they don't get things done. I am a Democrat and prood but not that prood that I want VOTE!!!

    November 4, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  9. Sniffit

    Duh. Thanks for pointing out the obvious. I've been saying this from the get-go, but hey, the "news" media has to pretend there's an issue and a controversy whenever sells their advertising time/space. There will be plenty of GOPers wanting to gloat and claiming CNN has somehow revealed its not-so-secret secret role in some vast liberal conspiracy as a result of printing this idiocy, but it's largely their ignorance that fuels whatever comes out of their mouths in the first place...that's just common it's easily ignored. Here GOPers, have a tissue...did the big bad mean old CNN ruin your fun by printing something common sensical for once?

    November 4, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  10. Mercedes

    I am in the 30-39 year old group and will vote for President Obama in 2012. He will proof to be a great president in history. Just watch and see it as it unfolds. GREAT President!!!!!!

    November 4, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  11. katiec

    CNN. where is your headline that a Democrat won an election that has been held by republicans for many years??
    Why are you not mentioning that endorsements by Palin and the likes did not have the power they believed they would??
    Nor did you point out that the American people are turned off by
    those who hide behind a bible while inciting hate, anger, fear mongering, division of our country, ignoring that lies, distortions
    hypocrasy are sins.
    This was a race that counted and people are disturbed and disgusted by the unpatriotic, irresposible path the party of NOthing has taken.

    November 4, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  12. Ron Mexico

    Of course it isn't...unless democrats had won. then, it would have been.

    November 4, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  13. Kairos

    Local elections are decided generally on issues specific to that region. For instance, North Carolina generally votes Republican during Presidential elections, but tend to vote Democratic when it comes to Governorships. Local elections also only bring out a small sample of voters, older and whiter, so it's difficult to view a local election through national eyes. Congressional races such as NY23 do affect the balance of power in congress at times though.

    November 4, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  14. tonyt

    Get A grip News Media, relax!
    Might the media, with really very few other elections to cover, be stuffing one hundred thousand pounds of their bull into District 23's five-pound bag?"

    November 4, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  15. Bill Gourlay

    Contrary to your title, New Jersey and Virginia elections were a direct reflection on and a repudiation of the competence of the Obama administration and its wrong-headed direction.

    November 4, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  16. inofritzn

    Way to spin for the President CNN. Puppets. Not a single major headline story on the site has anything to do with yesterday's election. NO, CNN leads with Palin stories, this isn't about Obama stories, Obama needs time stories. Pathetic.

    November 4, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  17. Tony

    Of course it is...............

    NOBAMA stumped for VA and NJ and they lost. The left says these are not important, but yet they are quick to point out how the NY 23 race was great.

    Polls state NOBAMA was not a factor – meaning he did not help his candidate. He pushed hard for Corzine as did Biden and Corzine spent 22 million and could not pull it off.

    The change is coming...........

    November 4, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  18. Weezy

    Of course their not a referendum on Obama, but they sure would have been a confirmation for Obama if the Dems had won! C'mon, quit talking out of both sides of your mouth. I don't care if it were a referendum or a confirmation, but when you report for the entire week before the election that this could be a sign of what the "american people think" of Pres Obama, then when the results come in not in the way you wanted them, don't play the "should not be interpreted as a significant blow to President Obama" card.

    November 4, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  19. Paula

    I think it' ridiculous to spin this into a story about President Obama. Would Dems liked to have won? Yes. The candidates in NJ and VA needed to go and run their race and not expect President Obama to get them into office. Like Ben Stein said if Obama had been on the ballot he would have won. The Dems took Virginia when Bush was in the Presidency and no one said that was a referendum on Bush. Report real news...the fact that a Dem won a seat help by Republicans for more than 100 years. Don't create stories just for the sake of having a story.

    November 4, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  20. once upon a horse

    well I guess common sense and facts will tell you that this election was NOT a referendum on President Obama, BUT since when has common sense and facts stopped the far right from spinning things into what they want you and their base to hear. Dosen't matter that history has shown that these types of elections have not favored the party in the White House, you can bet that Rush, Sean, and Glenn will be yelling from the high hills that this win was all about being anti-Obama. What they won't talk about much though will be the loss in upstate NY by a candidate that was endorsed by the three of them and Sarah Palin which shows that many in more educated open minded areas of the country are not yet ready to accept the far-right machine of intolerence that they have been throwing out there the past few months.

    November 4, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  21. Mike Syracuse, NY

    A particularly biased article. You specifically failed to mention that in VA and NJ, although most voters felt Obama's campaigning made no difference to their votes,, for those to whom it DID make a difference, more were inclined to vote against the Democrat than for him. THAT is a referendum on Obama. Also this much hyped 'civil war' among Republicans is a lot to infer from one special election with unique circumstances in upsate NY. Try being more impartial CNN, you're all starting to sound like Roland Martin.

    November 4, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  22. Robin

    Yes it is.

    President Obama came to NJ THREE TIMES to campaign for Corzine. Corzine still lost by a landslide.

    November 4, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  23. Stop the Spending

    Got to love CNN. Spinning for the left. What a useless analysis. As time passes, we the American people understand that out of control government spending is going to wreck our country. It is now 1 year since Obama has been elected, it is getting tough to blame Bush for our woes. Man up Dems, the economy, the country is now yours.

    November 4, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  24. Beyond Absurd

    It only took Bush/Cheney eight years to nearly destroy this country so why, without the help of the obstructionist GOP, hasn't Obama been able to fix it in ten months? Forget the words "referendum and "mandate" and give the man a chance. It is far better than giving the country back to the morally bankrupt GOP.

    November 4, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  25. Jon

    You can spin what you like! Rather than focusing on economics and job creation, why did he spent so much specious time to campaign for those two guys if he does not scare they might lose?

    November 4, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
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