While it would be one thing for the White House to write off tonight’s election results if it were only about Bob McDonnell’s landslide in Virginia, it will be a lot more difficult for the administration to dismiss Chris Christie’s victory in New Jersey. The Garden State is solidly Democratic territory that has voted Democratic in every presidential election after 1988 and every governor’s race after 1997. In 2008, Obama won the state by 15 points, and as of this writing, Christie is up by 5 points — so that’s a 20 point swing. Obama made a number of trips to New Jersey to stump for Jon Corzine, including two in the closing weeks of the campaign — and it wasn’t because he thought the weather was pleasant in the state this time of year.
Even if we don’t see the New Jersey election results as a rejection of Obama, at the very minimum what they show is that his campaign appearances can’t carry a Democrat across the finish line, even a candidate with a huge money advantage in a solidly blue state. And if Obama — with all of his star power and highly-touted political organization — can’t deliver in New Jersey, then why would a moderate Democrat running for re-election next year in a red district where Obama is unpopular to begin with tie himself to Obama? Why would a red state Democrat vote with the Democratic leadership on issues such as health care legislation and “cap and trade”?