Voice of the People: Post Mortem On Election 2013

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Voice of the People by James J. Devineby James Devine

Governor Chris Christie gained only five percent over his 2009 vote total in the 2013 landslide, which means that perception of the race as a foregone conclusion was wildly off base and the Democratic challenger could have won had she conducted a competent campaign.

As it stands, this election was a repudiation of State Sen. Barbara Buono, who failed to articulate what she and the Democratic Party stand for, more than an endorsement of a Republican whose moderate reputation stands in stark contrast to the insanity that prevails among his GOP cohorts.

This is less a victory for Republicans than a terrible defeat for Democrats, who look like a patchwork of cowards, crooks and crazies.

There’s nothing to be salvaged from the Buono campaign despite her declaration that she took on party bosses and power brokers. Corrupt power brokers are doing just fine with their pal, Christie, still heading the government.

Buono failed to wage a real campaign and she created no framework for future progressive success, as did Howard Dean, when he created Democracy for America, an organization that survived his ill-fated 2004 candidacy for president.

With almost the same number of votes he got four years ago, Christie became the first Republican to top 50% in a statewide race in a generation.

Buono — by comparison — convinced nearly one million New Jerseyans who voted for Barack Obama to stay home or skip the top Democratic candidate on the ballot.

The Christie-Buono match set a record low for turnout in a governor’s election. The previous record low, set four years ago by an unexciting Jon Corzine, was 47 percent.

Democrat Buono only scored only a few more votes than Senator Cory Booker did in his rare special election on a Wednesday in October (which actually set the record for low turnout in a general election), far fewer than Jon Corzine’s 2009 vote total and about one-third of President Obama’s performance in the Garden State (2,125,101 in 2012 and 2,215,422 in 2008).

Buono could have attached herself to the minimum wage increase and attracted a fundamental Democratic Party base vote, which would have exceeded Christie’s 1.2 million.

Buono could have talked about jobs and the incredibly unfair tax burden that is placed on working people under the current legal scheme

Buono could have rallied forces behind the basic message of MoveOn.org, Occupy Wall Street and other progressive organizations.

She did none of those things. Buono lost the election, she has nothing to show for it and New Jersey has nothing to show for it.

It remains highly unlikely that Christie will end up in the White House. However, even if he does get to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, New Jersey has lost this election.


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