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Obama's First Real Popularity Contest

November 2, 2009

As we glide into this first week of November, three key off-year elections may tell us more than the ubiquitous polls about where President Barack Obama really stands with the American people—at least those who vote.

First, in New York State's 23rd District, Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman is in a statistical dead heat with Democrat Bill Owens, and state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava (RINO) is running behind both of them for the open Congressional seat. As Rush Limbaugh succinctly points out, this race is not about how well a "third-party" candidate is doing. Hoffman is simply a conservative Republican who was not supported by the local party bosses and therefore chose to run on his own. If there had been a party primary as would be the case in a regular election year, Hoffman may well have beaten Scozzafava, who is as left-of-center a "Republican" as can be found. Hoffman unabashedly describes himself as a "Reagan Conservative" so if he wins, it's not because he was hiding anything about where he stands.

Second, in New Jersey, as blue of a blue state as there is, Republican Chris Christie holds a slim lead over incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine. Remember, Corzine basically bought this election four years ago when he plowed his Wall Street riches into getting elected. Now his tax-and-spend record has him on the ropes in this down economy. If he loses, it will be a devastating loss to the Obama machine of a key ally. And since Obama is actively campaigning for Corzine, it will be a double blow to the president's prestige and credibility if Christie pulls off the win.

Finally, in Virginia, Republican Bob McDonnell has a wide lead over Democrat Creigh Deeds, who apparently has such charisma that the president had no trouble throwing him under the bus for his rumpled appearance even while he lamely tried to support him. A recent blog attributes McDonnell's success to his focus on economic versus social issues, and blames Deeds for not getting over his party's initial support for Clintonite Terry McAuliffe and thus causing some disunity in the ranks. Whatever the reasons, if McDonnell wins by as comfortable a margin as the polls are showing, that does not bode well for the Obama camp.

Of course, we know that the network media elites will do everything they can to minimize the importance of these elections whether there is a Republican sweep or at least two of the three win, either of which is a good possibility. But when they do their spin doctoring, they should be called on their past MO when George W. Bush was president and every off-year Democrat elected was a direct referendum on his performance.

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