Friday, November 8, 2013

Regional divisions in the Virginia and New Jersey governors' races

This week's off-year U.S. elections featured two closely-watched gubernatorial contests. In Virginia, Democratic Party insider Terry McAuliffe squeaked by a Tea Party firebrand Tuesday in a race much closer than pollsters expected. In New Jersey, incumbent Gov. Chris Christie -- a relative moderate in the G.O.P. these days -- won re-election in a resounding landslide.

The results of both elections -- one close, the other a rout -- reflected the regional cultural fissures that cut each of these states in two. (See American Nations if you've no idea what I'm talking about.)

Yesterday afternoon, I wrote about the almost mirror-image differences in voting in Tidewater and Appalachian Virginia over at Washington Monthly's Ten Miles Square. This morning I added a piece on New Jersey, where Christie did significantly better in the (South Jersey) Midlands than New Netherland.

Both have significant lessons for national politics. Virginia shows the Tea Party is doomed outside Greater Appalachia, the Deep South and the Far West. And if Christie's support in the rest of the Midlands is even a shadow of what it was in Midland New Jersey this week, he could prove a formidable candidate in 2016. Details over at the Monthly.

Thanks also to Ed Kilgore, the Monthly's Political Animal, for his posts on both the Virginia and New Jersey pieces today, which include some additional insights from an Appalachian native son.

[Update, 11/23/13: This post provides links to updated data and third party commentary on the power of regionalism in the Virginia race.]

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