Tomorrow is the 2009 off-year election day, and I have a bad feeling about it. Too many close races, nothing important for the good guys that feels secure.
There are three high-profile races going down tomorrow: The Virginia Governor's race, the New Jersey Governor's race, and the special election to fill the NY-23 Congressional district (vacated by John McHugh, who became Obama's Secretary of the Army).
The Virginia race, everyone seems to agree, is done. Poll after poll has given state Attorney General Bob McDonnell a double digit lead over state senator Creigh Deeds, whose campaign was lackluster and never seemed to take off. This takes some of the shine off of my own gloating to my political operative friends when Deeds won the Democratic primary in a bit of an upset (I had told them he was the real thing). This will snap a sustained Democratic winning streak that started with Mark Warner winning the governor's seat in 2001, saw Tim Kaine hold in in 2005, and culminated with Democrats securing both Virginia Senate seats and an Obama victory in 2008.
In New Jersey, by contrast, we have a complete toss-up that strikes me as being akin to last cycle's Minnesota Senate race. Why? Because voters seem to loathe both candidates in roughly equal measure. Incumbent Jon Corzine was widely seen as dead in the water, skirting around (and even below) 40% in all the early polls. He didn't so much claw his way back as his opponent, former US Attorney Chris Christie, immolated himself, going from tough prosecuting corruption-buster to typical New Jersey GOP schmoe in seemingly an eyeblink. Now both candidates are stuck in the low forties (with an independent sucking up the rest of the vote), and nobody knows what will happen. New Jersey does have a history of breaking Republican hearts, so this might be the best shot of the night.
Then, there is the wild saga that is the NY-23. The Republicans nominated relative moderate Dede Scozzafava, who was expected to coast against unknown Democrat Bill Owenws in a district that voted for Obama but has been Republican at the Congressional level for ages (parts of it have been represented by a Whig more recently than a Democrat). But the tea-bag wing of the party hates her social moderation and puts up a Conservative Party challenger by the name of Doug Hoffman. Amazingly, Hoffman's campaign takes off, Scozzafava bows out then endorses Owens, and now nobody knows what the terrain is. This all happened the weekend before election day, and everything is in flux, but it looks like Hoffman might have a slight advantage. Some Democrats are excited by the prospect of a Hoffman victory, arguing that it will encourage the extreme right to nominate unelectable nuts countrywide. I, on the other hand, agree with Nate Silver, in that I think it is unambiguously bad when a psychotically right-wing nutcase with poor campaign skills and essentially no local ties wins in a swing district. If nothing else, the media spin will be horrific. And Congressional Democrats are already too gun shy for my liking.
Finally, Maine also will be voting on a referendum to overturn the state's democratic decision to legalize gay marriage. The polls on that also show things all locked up -- which is what they showed in California before that heartbreaking loss.
I'm pessimistic. Very pessimistic.