November 4th, 2009
09:34 AM ET
4 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.

Follow Mark Preston on twitter @prestoncnn

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

    Of course it is a referendum. Virginia is right in Obama's back yard. Northern Virginia is a suburb of D.C. Only Dems try to argue that it is not a referendum. That being said, one has to compare the qualifications of the individuals. But if they are roughly equal, all that remains is their policies and how close they match the White House's.

    November 4, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  2. Suzan

    The only reason the GOP won Virginia and NJ is because of the State issues.......high property taxes, and corruption........over all the country still gives Obama a 54 percent approval rating........2 States is not taking back this country.......until you can shake Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Colter, Palin the Tea Baggers, the Birthers, the Preachers praying for the death of the President, House members calling the President lier, the rest of the GOP in Congress and the House from going against this President every time he tries to pass a Bill and always going the NO NO NO route......... we the people of this country see the GOP as holding American Hostage from getting out of the mess your last President Bush got us in too.......and.you will see the future of your Republican Party Die a slow death.........the Democrat Owens that took NY for the first time in 100 years speaks volumes about what this country thinks of the far right conservatives, racists, radical religious, Tea Baggers, Birthers, and Palin, Boegner, Pawlney, and all the others who threw their supported to him.........

    November 4, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  3. Tony in Maine

    The last time the media came to a conclusion this miraculous, there was a star in the east.

    Imagine – something happened and it wasn't Obama's fault.

    November 4, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  4. Mike in SA

    Wow! Way to put tinsel on a twig! Nearly half of Virginians admit that Obama was a factor in their statewide vote and the Dems lost not just the governorship but also the Attorney General's race and the LT. Governor's race. And that's when the most important issue of the day for Virginians was health care. Haven't heard Obama talk about that at all, now have we?

    Then nearly 4 in 10 New Jersey voters admit that Obama was a factor in their statewide vote and the Dems lost that governorship too. This after Obama made a last minute push, personally campaigning for the Dem candidate mere days before the election.

    To top it off, a candidate for a conservative third party that had never garnered more than 20% of the vote in New York's 23rd Congressional District and had only fielded a candidate twice before for that district received over 45% of the vote in spite of the Republican candidate bowing out, throwing her support to the Dems (sheep's clothing), and siphoning off the early votes for that position.

    People are tired of the big spending ways in Washington and unfortunately, that's all Obama and the Dems have to offer.

    So go ahead and say this didn't mean anything just like you said about the tea parties. You should know though, when an ostrich sticks his head in the sand, he ends up being a sitting duck. See you next November, oh long-necked flightless bird.

    November 4, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  5. Rosa Birmingham, AL

    I agree, everyone hated Corzine because he was a Wall Street hack. In addition, the Repub there is fairly moderate. The Dem in Va ran a bad campaign, no one could tell what he stood for. It is just too early too tell if the RNC is making a come back. Nevertheless, the NY23 race suggests that going way to the right is not a good strategy for them. That district has not voted for a Democrat in how many years and now they have a Democratic representative. That is pretty funny. Hope Palin can work her magic some more in 2010.

    November 4, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  6. SammyD

    Yeah keep saying that and maybe it will be true...

    November 4, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  7. Obama fan...not!

    Just keep saying it...click your heels together...
    Do you think it was Axelrod or Emanuel who gave CNN this talking point?

    November 4, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  8. Bluebonnet

    Oh bull, he wishes it wasn't a referendum!! Losers!!!! He went to NJ 3 times to campaign (at taxpayers' expense, no less) for Corzine and for what good? NONE – thank goodness!

    November 4, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  9. HBO

    Let's not forget the overall turnout was low ... In other words, when considering shear numbers, 60% of <2,000,000 is not the same as 60% of 4,000,000 (out of nearly 8,000,000 people in VA).

    This mean only about 25% of the electorate voted.

    How is that a referendum on anything?

    November 4, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Of course the election results were NOT a referendum on Obama. Quite on the contrary, the Democrats lost because they failed to identify with the President until it was too late. Once again being reactive versus proactive. The majority of the country is very much in agreement with what the President has done so far to turn back the tide of our Republican-induced economic downfall. They see a President that is working hard and effectively on ALL fronts with little to no support from both sides of the House. Let's face it there was no candidate out there with a clear message, the stamina, and the charisma of our President. You reap what you sow.

    The Republicans' progressive cannibalism of their once cherished Party will NOT realign them with the values and needs of the average American. Their dirty politcal tactics have sunk to an all time low, and by and large the intelligent voter is rejecting what little they seem to stand for.

    Palin/Bachman 2012!!!!! So that WE may put country first with OBAMA!

    November 4, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  11. Wow

    I have to disagree with you Mr. Preston. I am a resident of NJ. Yes, our property taxes are ridiculously high which is the main reason why I voted for Christie. The other reason is unemployment. The White House passed a $787 billion stimulus package in January saying that with this bill unemployed isn't going to go over 8%. We are just under 10%. With Obama appearing 5 times with Corzine and speaking for him, this shows that NJ wanted a change. Obama's name was atop of Corzine's on the democratic campaign billboards and it didn't help Corzine. Obama told everyone to vote for Corzine because they will together fix unemployment. That did not work. We are tired of the unemployment rate and want it to be fixed.

    November 4, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  12. a little sad

    The governors races should probably not be considered a referendum on Obama, though perhaps NJ more than VA.

    However, the election of the Democratic candidate in NY23 for the first time since the Civil War definitely can be considered a referendum on the Palin/Rush/Beck cabal. So much for the loud-mouth tea bagging crowd.

    Do you think that Palin will claim that her (unwanted) robo-call in Virginia put the Republican candidate over the top?

    You betcha.

    November 4, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  13. D. Tree

    When the full impact of the 2-year Recovery Act is felt and the Economy has recovered, a lot of people are going to be thanking Obama and the Dems for making the right choice for our economy.

    And all the haters and the naysayers who only complain but offer nothing new: they will all have egg on their face.

    Who will you have to hate then, people? I'm sure the lobbyists you ave been listening to will find another target to point you at.

    November 4, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  14. katiec

    Local problems and Federal problems are two different things.
    That the people voted for republicans was an indication of who was running rather than party. That the majority still support our president proves our country is disgusted, irritated with the irresponsible, unpatriotic, sewer tactics of the party of Nothing.
    The important race was in NY, which CNN fails to mention, Palins
    book tour being more "newsworthy" to them, in which a conservative republican area said NO to the radical religious right. And the republican party.
    This is a big win for the Democrats. Intelligent people will continue to let the GOP know that their party first, anything to win, totally disregarding the American people and our country, refusal to support anything that could help in our survial actions are unacceptable and not what they were elected to do.

    November 4, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  15. Gordon Shumway

    CNN's poll reveals that people don't like extremes at either end of the spectrum and prefer moderates. To say that these results had nothing to do with Obama's administration and radical intentions is not only ludicrous, but just plain stupid!

    November 4, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  16. jaye

    Good grief! Why bring President Obama into everything? Those elections had nothing to do with him, and why is the media making such a big deal out of it. Some people vote for the person, not the party.
    Stop with the political rethoric, CNN, and stop focusing everything on President Obama. Sheesh!

    November 4, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  17. Enough

    It's a HUGE embarrassment for Obama. After all his trips campaigning for these guys and they still lose. Campaigner in Chief needs to realize his words are no longer magic. Obama promised us the world and we are getting his a huge debt and higher taxes..............not quite the change we voted for.

    November 4, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  18. Ralph Kramden

    Puuuulease! As hard as he worked for it and then the results come back that his influence did not do anything...

    How can it not be a referendum on Obama.

    I am sure he will look great in the history books, but not the news papers.

    November 4, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  19. Wayne

    Of course it's not a "significant blow", but I'm sure Rush and Glenn will turn it into a "Revolution for the people" and a sign of things to come, gloating about it for months.

    November 4, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  20. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    How could it be a referendum on President Obama?

    In both NJ and VA the exit polls overwhelming showed that President Obama in no way influenced their vote, either negatively or positively.
    The only referendum was on the election gods that have forecast for many years that both states vote against the party in the WH during off year elections.

    Then there is the NY-23 in which a Dem was elected for the first time since 1872.

    The only referendum that should be taken away is on the far-right neo-con wingnuts and Saint Sarah of the Silly. As pointed out both winners in VA and NJ ran on economic issues as moderates and did not dwell or in McDonnell's case, even mention social issues, lest that thesis rear it's ugly head.

    Also, both bills in Washington and Maine to reduce taxes was soundly defeated. Only proving that the "teabaggers" and "astroturfers" were Dick Armey paid racist white people angry that "their" country had been high-jacked and publicized by Fake the News and their 2 million person claim of participation. Therefore, verifying that the "anger" was more about racism directed at President Obama than taxes.

    Of course, the arrogant neo-con "christians" will ignore any rational observations and continue to purge the party of all that they feel are RINO.

    Lord, hear my prayer!

    November 4, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  21. Sgt. USMC

    wow, what a an accomplishment. to know that you can lie your way into the voter's minds. pitiful. keep it up repubs, but you won't see the white house for a long time to come.

    November 4, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  22. Mike

    Balogna is balogna. Anyone who thinks this is not a referendum on nobama will probably buy the bridge I own in Brooklyn and London. He is personally popular but his job approval is below 50 percent on most polls.

    November 4, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  23. Clinton Cooper

    lol yeah right this WAS all about Obama.

    November 4, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  24. luis

    Right . . . only if the Democrats would have won but not when they lose.

    November 4, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  25. Dave

    Wow! New Jersey hasn't had a Republican governor in 16 years! This is a direct result of Obama as our president. People don't like what he is doing and is trying to do to our country and our health care. Obama spent millions of taxpayer dollars campainging in New Jersey with 6 personal appearances and he still lost! Obama should be very nervous, but not as nervous as democratic lawmakers that he has forced to walk the plank, midterm elections in 2010 are going to be a landslide, and the dems are going to be in the unemployment lines next to all of us. Obama is running our country into the ground and the people know it. Who raises taxes during a recession? Who takes money away from senior citizens health care? Who sends soldiers to their deaths with no plan or strategy? Who puts Trillions of dollars of debt on our babies and grandkids shoulders? Who takes 787 billion dollars away from taxpayers and uses it to create 30,000 jobs, and then lies to the 30 million unemployed and said it created milions of jobs when we have the highest unemployment rate in our nations history? IMPEACH!!!!!!

    November 4, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
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