November 4th, 2009
09:34 AM ET
8 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. Obama 2.0

    From the independent side of things I can tell you that wee are tired of non action from both parties and it seems that the POTUS is the only one really trying to get things done inteligently.

    November 4, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  2. ER

    And when all the "corruption" within the Obama administration surfaces, and when the increases in taxes, utility rates, healthcare costs, and unemployment rates continue under this administration's polices are felt by the American people, you can expect to see more people turning away from dems those policies.

    Obama is a cool guy, but his policies and the people he surrounds himself with are what the American people reject.

    November 4, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  3. Black Viper

    You all forgot Obama is the head of the democratic party now and has a mandate to campaign for a democrat governor even if that governors chances of winning is slim. That is his duty.
    Why didn't the republican star Persona Non Grata Sarah Palin didn't go on the campaign trail and campaign for these Republican governors?
    Use your brain for God sake?

    November 4, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  4. conservative

    Go ahead and spin it and delude yourselves but Obamas election was a one time aberration!!!

    November 4, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  5. DickCheneyTheMadharchodh

    Idealism is always good on the paper.
    Let us also consider the things he was able to move forward and the kind of mess and the people that existed in the system when he took office and ask this question – if you were him, would you FIRE all these lobbyists and others who had the "pre-existing" conditions???

    If yes, you would be stupid – that is very costly. Cleanup acts are ALWAYS difficult and come with a price – at this time of the economy, it is crucial not to create a whole lot of discontent and hate etc ....

    I look at the economy and feel good and you should too (just consider the Cheney Shet in the last year)... It is like a MASSIVE oil spill – takes a good 3 years to clean up and he seems to be trying it and I hope he will ultimately bring it to some shape before the next election!!

    November 4, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  6. Gene

    That's exactly how Rush predicted that you would spin it.

    The government-controlled media

    November 4, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  7. annie s

    State and city races rarely reflect one way or the other on the President – and in the two Governor's races last night, voters did exactly what they have done historically. The kicker was the one national race – a Democrat won a seat in a Congressional district that has been "conservative" since the Civil War. Could it be that Americans don't want the extreme right conservative agenda?

    November 4, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  8. Joe, Chicago IL

    I love the media spin.

    IF America loved his agenda and embraced it, then the two Gov elections would have been a drop in the bucket. He showed up and said that he needs his guys in office to get his agenda pushed thru.

    Mr. President, the voters said NO to your choices for Gov.

    November 4, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  9. franco

    The GOP eighteen percent VA margin was the 3 AM WH call. Of course it is a referndum on the president. Spin it the other way, if the democrats had won both states. Basically stated, Americans do not want massive government in their life. I do not want to wake up every morning with the likes of Pelosi, Franks, Dodd or Reid. I now predict the health care will fail because the blue dogs are scared, more than before , having seen the VA/NJ results. Unfortunately, it is all about them, not about the public good.

    November 4, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  10. phoenix86

    I used to think Obama was 1 and done. Now I'm not sure he'll even be relevant enough to be considered to have reached the "1".

    The voters rejected the Obama Welfare State. It wasn't so much an acceptance of the Republicans as much as a rejection of the Statist policies of the luny left.

    November 4, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  11. James Michael Roberson

    I think the most important result in yesterday's election was that of NY23. The election of another Democrat to the US Congress is more important than the other elections. We need to focus on aiding Obama and the democratic majority in congress, as they move the country back on the track.

    Under the circumstances the loss of the two governorships was expected and not much of a surprise. It is their loss, and the voters of Virginia and New Jersey I predict will wish they had voted otherwise during the next few years. These two elections further have no real effect on the agenda of the federal government.

    If anything the loss in these two states will just energize the democrats to work harder for 2010.

    November 4, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "Polls state NOBAMA was not a factor – meaning he did not help his candidate. "

    No, actually, what the polls show is that it was pretty much equally split between those who felt their vote showed opposition to Obama and those who felt it showed support for him...and that the total of those two types of votes made up only a minority % of the entire voting public. Therefore, even tho some did consider it a "referendum" on Obama's policies, it was a minority who thought so and their votes were tied on the issue. The majority of people, i.e., mostly Independents, voted based on the STATE issues that mattered to them, like property taxes, state gov't corruption, etc. So even tho Independents seemed to side with the GOPers in those two races, it had nothing to do with Obama, which pretty much knocks out the theory that yesterday foreshadows 2010.

    November 4, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  13. Bear

    When it works, he takes the credit and when it fails he hides or blames others. Just like when they poll his policies versus his popularity. He is so superficial it's unbelievable. Most people are judged on their character (policies and beliefs) but this president only spins what is popular or makes him look good. NO accountability with this baby kissin politician. If his lips are moving, he is lying.

    November 4, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  14. usualone

    It will be interesting if these future Republican governors can give what they promised. Where are their monies going to come from when they reduce property taxes or pay for transportation? Some other part of their states economies will suffer. Most likely jobs. These were not referendums on Pres. Obama. The voters were wishful thinking.

    November 4, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  15. Kevin in Ohio

    CNN, can you ever learn to spin something that is even close to the truth? What we saw last night was exactly the same thing we saw in 1993. And then 1994 happened. I cannot wait till next November! We will finally put a stop to this President's very misguided policies.

    November 4, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  16. Reagan was wrong

    Anyone notice how FOX News is the only major news outlet claiming these elections ARE a referendum on Obama?

    What's more likely, that FOX News is right and everyone else is wrong, or that FOX News has a hard right slant?

    November 4, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  17. Seriously, Left

    Yeah...whatever. If NJ would have kept Corzine, I might agree with you. NJ should be of some concern to the white house. If not, more power to the dems in 2010.......and please, please keep sending the president to the front lines to promote liberal candidates. He should campaign for Harry Reid and Chris Dodd next!

    November 4, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  18. Allan

    In NJ, Obama got a lot of people out to vote who wouldn't have voted. The big counties, with large minority and youth populations, went democrat (as expected) and it was Obama's influence that got most of these people out to vote. Without Obama's pull, the election would have been a sweep. The state Senate and Assembly remains in democrat control and the vote was narrow enough to suggest that Christie has struggles ahead of him to unify the state.

    November 4, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  19. LacrosseMom

    Of course the two new GOP governors were not a referendum on President Obama!

    1. Obama's been in office, 10 months.

    2. Governors do not legislate, do not affect the nation, only their state.

    3. CNN had an interesting article last night about how Virginia always chooses a governor of the OPPOSITE party that's in the White House, they have done so for many years.

    4. Corzine was already an unpopular governor, when Obama was elected a year ago today.

    The REALLY BIG STORY is ........ NY-23 ....... CHOOSING A DEMOCRAT FOR THE ......... FIRST........TIME.......IN 100 YEARS!


    Palin & Beck's meddling in the NY-23..... PROVES how LITTLE INFLUENCE THESE TWO HAVE!

    (excuse the yelling)

    November 4, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  20. fed up

    @Bubba....when will you and the rest of the cronies understand that it is not about Obama being "BLACK" but about his policies, agenda and spending. Any intelligent human being can see the direction he is taking this country! You are not entitled just by being a citizen as you all like to believe. you understand the consequences of "Cap and Trade" or the out of control deficit?. Funny that the dems fought cap and trade when it was lobbied for by Enron!

    November 4, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  21. Allan

    In NJ, Obama got a lot of people out to vote who wouldn't have voted. The big counties, with large minority and youth populations, went democrat (as expected) and it was Obama's influence that got most of these people out to vote. Without Obama's pull, the election would have been a sweep. The state Senate and Assembly remains in democrat control and the vote was narrow enough to suggest that Christie has struggles ahead of him to unify the state. Corzine had a large battle ahead of him as he cut rebates, increased taxes, shut down the state for a few days, etc. He's also had people's pay cut, cut people's working days, violated contracts because of the economy. Of course he was going to be blamed for all of that. Christie is a moderate Republican – reminiscent of Whitman – so that speaks to the constituency of the state.

    If anything, the national congressional seats speak more to Obama's influence than the governorships. Both California and New York went democrat (even with the big conservatives bolstering support for Hoffman). Obviously we on the coasts and in the north prefer democrats and moderates to right-wingers.

    November 4, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  22. dave

    NJ might be a referendum on Goldman Sachs

    governor races are based on state issues

    in NY 23 a democratic congressional candidate beat a conservative in a district with a record of always being republican

    Republican's lose

    November 4, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  23. Right Trash

    I love that Christie & McDonnell distanced themselves from Palin and won their races. And, the unfortunate looking dude in NY 23 who call Beck his "mentor" lost. It means that the far right is a joke with zero power and influence and that moderation will always win the day.

    The dems didn't turn out in VA like they did last fall – if nothing else, they need to be energized.

    November 4, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  24. Mary Gail O'Dea

    Thank you! The only really important news of last night was that conservative attempts to hijack the election in NY-23 failed miserably. THAT should be their take-away. Deeds was a weak candidate and Corzine has been an unpopular governor. If anything, Obama's power helped Corzine do BETTER than he should have. Charlotte, NC elected an African American mayor and the first Dem mayor in 20 years; we also increased Dem control of the City Council, which now is 8-3.

    November 4, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  25. single mom

    Two quick comments -

    Bubba – race really doesn't mean much to me. I'm more concerned with the policies. And I don't like Obama's policies.

    Paula from TX - look at a map, please. New Jersey and Virginia are NOT in New England. Nor are they small states.

    And by the way, isn't the DNC chair from Virginia? Where the heck has he been?

    November 4, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
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