Scrapping the Conventional Wisdom

Tonight is election night. It’s not nearly as big as one year ago—no presidential contest, no Senate seats up for grabs. However, there are some key elections that might indicate a trend.

Virginia Republican Bob McDonnell

In Virginia, races for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and state legislators will be decided. It appears that Republicans will sweep all the top offices and increase their majority in the legislature.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell holds a double-digit lead in polls over his Democratic challenger. McDonnell is an evangelical Catholic who studied at Regent University, where I taught for seven years. He was a student prior to my time there, but I did have opportunities to speak with him from time to time. He will be a fine representative of his faith and will promote policies in accordance with basic Biblical principles. How nice to be able to say that. It’s so rare these days. If the conventional wisdom—that which seems to tempt Republican “leaders” lately—had prevailed, McDonnell never would have been nominated. His conservatism, his background, his faith would repel people—according to the conventional wisdom, that is. The conventional wisdom was wrong.

There is a special House race in New York that has everyone’s attention. Until last weekend, there were three candidates.

The woman on the left (which turns out to be the proper designation for her), Dede Scozzafava, was the handpicked choice of local Republican leaders. Why was she chosen over others? She was so “moderate.” Of course, the definition of moderate meant pro-abortion rights, pro-gay rights, pro-card check for unions. She also had some ties to ACORN. And this was the Repubican nominee?

It was supposed to be a race between her and Bill Owens, the Democrat, but something went wrong. The grassroots rose up to support the Conservative Party candidate, Doug Hoffman, who had been rejected by the Republican leaders. Sarah Palin took the lead in declaring her support for him; she was followed by a multitude of other national conservatives, and the Scozzafava nomination bled, so much so that she withdrew from the race last weekend. Now polls show that Hoffman will probably win tonight. If that happens, it will be because the conservatives within the Republican Party said, “No.” Absolutely stunning! Absolutely wonderful as well!

Governor Corzine

Then there’s New Jersey. Sitting governor Jon Corzine is runing for reelection. Unfortunately for him, his name has become synonymous with corruption. That hasn’t stopped him from spending his vast fortune to get reelected. He’s outspent his Republican opponent by about 3 to 1. Yet most polls show him running slightly behind.

Challenger Chris Christie

Chris Christie, the Republican in the race, actually has a chance to unseat Corzine. If that were to happen, it would be a seismic change to the political landscape, since New Jersey is about as Democratic a state as one can find south of Massachusetts.

The race is muddied with a third candidate, Chris Daggett, whose primary goal seems to be to keep Christie from accomplishing the unthinkable. There’s also the specter of fraud, which is always a possibility in New Jersey elections. If Christie pulls this off, it will qualify as at least a minor miracle. Corzine may win, but it may take sleight of hand to make it happen. Republicans should have legal challenges ready.

Overall, this election cycle is shaping up as an early referendum on the Obama presidency. If Democrats lose all these races, there will be the usual spin, claiming it has nothing to do with rejection of the president’s policies. Don’t be fooled by the spin.

I’ll be following these results carefully and hoping that the voters will defy the conventional wisdom in each case.