November 4th, 2009
09:34 AM ET
5 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. not Obama or any other famous person

    Virginia is itsown locality as is NY and NJ

    it is not a nationwide statement

    But view it as good advice... don't take your eye off the economy Mr. Obama, fix this problem that Bush left you

    November 4, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  2. Enough

    Gotta Love the picture you chose for this article.........Obama looking so confused!

    November 4, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  3. joann

    I am so tired of the so called political expertst with there comments that everything in this country is some how connected to President Obama. President Obama is not a scientific project that has to put under a microscope and analized and probed. Just because he is our first african american president doesn't mean that he is a "science" project....He is trying is best to play the hand that was dealt to him by the previous Bush administration!!! I have never heard or saw such attention to the other presidents that this country has had....Maybe if the political experts probed Bush's administration like they do the Obama administration...our country would be in much better shape....

    It's hard enough being a black man in america...but they way it seems to me it's harder being a black president in america!!!

    November 4, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  4. FRANK, Las Vegas

    I agree, these particular wins were not a vote against the President but everyone knows the GOP will spin it that way. The problem with that is that the GOP will think it's a signal to move farther and farther to the right. All the while not seeing that moving more to the right will only hurt them more.

    Our country needs a two party system but having the GOP move farther to the right will ultimately insure that we only have one party. So the question becomes; Will the GOP have the wisdom and strength to resist the urge on moving more to the right?

    November 4, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  5. Annie, Atlanta

    Local politics really don't have anything to do with the federal govt. And the media and the right trying to tie this to President Obama is simply propaganda. The right starts the chant, and MSM picks up on it and passes it along as fact. Nothing new to see here.

    More importantly, VA now has a governor who may not think much of women in general if his college thesis is any indication. And NJ has a governor who was schooled by Karl Rove. Great. Good luck with that, y'all. And bigotry and hate won the day in Maine, along with tax exempt religious organizations – oh wait, that's the same thing. Seems like each year that goes by we take several steps back. Yeah us.

    November 4, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  6. J

    I blame it on the press. I cannot recall anytime when it has been so willing to take up the cause of those who opposes our president or the value of debate. The press didn's say a negative word when Delay and his crooked band of lobbiest bulldozed everything through. Remember what happened when those opposed the Iraq war tries to say something. Again, the press protected the Republican's position. Republicans have offered nothing recently but complaints and whining, and the press happily reports it as legitimate criticism. Think tea-baggers, birthers, death panel provocateurs, palinistas, and the like.

    Man, I wish there was a legitamate news organization out there who actually tracked how our country has done (fiscally) and by other measures under recent republican and democratic leadership. Obama has gotten us out of a big hole, and he gets no credit.

    November 4, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  7. Rob

    True, how could it be? He hasn't done anything. The only thing that could be taken as a referendum on Obumbles would have to involve a golf course.

    November 4, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  8. Fools and their freedoms are soon parted

    Please...after all the stumping he did?

    November 4, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  9. Casy

    Obama made it a referendum on him when he decided to inject himself into the race. He can't have it both ways. The White House and Obama's supporters would be boasting about his clout had the Democrat won! Being that his presence probably hurt more than it helped. they want to distance themselves! Pretty pathetic!

    November 4, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  10. Ken in NC

    The elections last night might not have been a referendum on President Obama but it should be a signal to him that his phone is ringing and the message being left on his answering machine is that he must get some starch in his back bone and start to make things happen and stop trying to please Republicans. They don't want him to please them. They want him to fail and they are willing to let our country go down the tubes for it.

    While I did not have a vote in last nights election, I can assure the President that while I voted for him and still support him, and he is my President, if he does not get some back bone from somewhere quickly, I can guarantee him one less vote in 2012.

    November 4, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  11. Senior Lilarose in Oregon

    Two states is a "major" Republican win????

    I don't think most Americans are even aware this morning that apparently the Republicans are "back in power!"

    November 4, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  12. PREDICTA

    Just the beginning of a major shift to the right. If unemployment stays high and Obama continues to push polices that put us further in debt, look for a repeat of last night in 2010.

    November 4, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  13. Chris from NY

    I'm sure the media would love that it be a referendum on Obama. They have ben salivating over this in the past few weeks forgetting that the voting blocks are smart. They know to make decisions by themselves without being force fed information on what to do.

    November 4, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  14. Anne Coleman

    Are you kidding? Energized convservative voters don't like the current White House and their wanting to shove liberal bills down their throats. Of course there was some of this seen in the upsets last night. AC

    November 4, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  15. Jose in Tx

    It appears that CNN received the Whitehouse talking points this morning. Why is CNN putting forth so much effort in trying to convince the public that this isn't a referendum on Obama? The election results do have a trickle down effect if more Republicans are elected next year since that will slow down the Obama/Pelosi brute force agenda. The American people are concerned with the direction the democrats are taking us and Obama IS the head of the democrat party. The people are sending a message. Are you listening, Obama?

    November 4, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  16. Jamie

    It's a mixed bag that neither Dems nor Repubs should use to gloat over or give its overpredictive power. Plus, as the 'Southern Strategy ' proves again, when low voter turnout occurs GOP is more likely to fill the seat than with Democrats. Loose, broad coalitions are still shaping themselves from great cultural and demographic shifts in the post-modern American electoral process – and GOP doesn't look good in the long term.

    November 4, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  17. J.P.

    Sounds like the media is running defense for their chosen one.

    The only thing that has changed on the political landscape in the last 365 days is the presence of the most radical leftist, statist anti-personal-freedom president to ever hold the office... how could this NOT be about Obama and his statist buddies?

    Keep telling yourself this wasn't a referendum on Barry and his spend-spend-spend Democrat majority... keep deluding yourselves... it will make the 2010 incumbent bloodbath even more satisfying.

    364 days until Lame Duck Status.

    November 4, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  18. sharon

    it sure was not a referendum on Obama.

    Go Ownes....................1st Democrat in over 100 years.

    The GOP is sure making folks in their own camp mad. Dede and her supporters showed them so.....by backing Ownes.

    Florida race will be next.

    The ? will the small GOP force this to repeat?

    November 4, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  19. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    both are republican states so who cares .. and if they think that it is a sign of the republican party come back they are dead wrong . the party is colapsing from the inside out . racist older white's are all that is left of the party core .. now the younger wanna be republicans are more liberial.and speak out . so they are acting more like moderate democrates .. and the saga continues :)

    November 4, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  20. Bob in Pa

    No, this was a referendum on the policies that Obama touts and supports. Specifically those policies that lead to spending massive amount of cash that we the people don't have.

    November 4, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  21. Proud Member..Party of No

    How can this be??? Why, I was told that republicans would never, ever win another election...ever? I thought that the the republican party was going the way of the dinosaurs and would never be heard from again?? I thought that Obama was The One.......that he would lead us to eternal happiness in the promised land and watched over by beloved democrats? Are you telling me that Obama has failed.....again? Now that I think about it, has he succeeded at anything? Ever?

    November 4, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  22. Moderate

    NJ and VA were focused on local issues. Congratulations to both governors. Dems should learn from Deeds not to run away from their platforms and embrace their base appeal.

    If there was any referendum, it was NY-23 where my former GOP drove out the moderate view for far right "conservative" and lost to what they purported as "liberal" (read: moderate). It was the first time a Dem has won the district since the Civil War. Congratulations, Congressman Owens.

    November 4, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  23. William

    Pundit No. 1: "The 2009 elections are a referendum on President Obama"

    Pundit No. 2: "The 2009 elections are not a referendum on President Obama"

    Reality: These elections have nothing to do with the president. If there are any more local than New Jersey's I've never heard about it. I guess pundits think that all Americans are stupid and consider how good a job the president is doing when they consider who they want to be their governor.

    November 4, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  24. Nathan,

    The congressional race in NY has more to do with the national outlook on the 2 parties and where the people want this country to go than the 2 governor races. Those races are mainly about local issues. I know the GOP will try to spin this into a referendum on Obama but its still too early in his administration for people to want wholesale change. The sting of the Republicans in power for 8 years is still very real.

    November 4, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  25. DH Mid MI

    Boloney! It was a sound rejection of Obama's priorities and tax and spend policies.

    November 4, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
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