Election afterglow, and criticism, as parties look forward

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie greets supporters after winning a second term at the Asbury Park Convention Hall on Tuesday. Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images

The results of two major off-year gubernatorial contests are still giving the political parties plenty of food for thought ahead of midterm elections and the 2016 race for the White House.

With Democratic Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe forging ahead to craft his transition team in Virginia — with several Republicans at the helm — and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie not shying away from his national ambition, Wednesday offered the parties time for reflection. The Morning Line

The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin and Jeremy Peters get at the internal GOP examination ahead of the next big contests.

And the Washington Post leads its front page with this story by Philip Rucker looking at how Democrats are immediately attempting to knock Christie down a peg after his resounding victory of more than 60 percent of the vote to secure a second term.

But Republicans are joining in as well. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., pointedly used his perch from a Senate hearing to ask Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan if it was appropriate for federal aid for Superstorm Sandy to have been used on television. He didn’t name Christie, but the reference to the New Jersey governor was clear.

And Sahil Kapur of Talking Points Memo translates some of the praise Christie got from other Republicans who might be eyeing a national bid.

In Virginia, Republicans were finger-pointing about why Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli lost, with a major factor being money. The Chamber of Commerce contributed nothing to the race, and the Republican Governors Association held back from giving the candidate a late infusion.

The Post’s Marc Fisher and Rosalind Helderman revealed in its look-back that Cuccinelli didn’t call McAuliffe for the traditional celebratory wishes on election night.

Politico’s James Hohmann dives into the pre-election polling, with some strategists suggesting that early numbers shaped the race’s outcome:

Republican Ken Cuccinelli’s chief strategist said Wednesday that the polls were worse than wrong: He believes they badly hobbled his candidate’s viability and made a late comeback more difficult.

“Public polling is essentially a suppression tool used to demoralize our voters and dry up money, especially the latter,” Chris LaCivita told POLITICO.

But McAuliffe pollster Geoff Garin said he never believed the public polling. His numbers always showed it would be a close race. His final poll, finished last Thursday, had McAuliffe up three points, 45 percent to 42 percent, with Libertarian Robert Sarvis pulling 5 percent.

The final result: McAuliffe, 48 percent; Cuccinelli, 45.5 percent; and Sarvis, 6.6 percent.
Most public polls showed a much larger margin for McAuliffe.

Examining the exit polls, it seems McAuliffe was able to boost turnout from the state’s 2009 gubernatorial contest in part by duplicating the model Democrats used to help President Barack Obama win the state for a second time in 2012. He won a lopsided share of single women and young people.

And while the numbers show voters don’t really like the Affordable Care Act, and don’t love McAuliffe, they still chose a new direction for the state.

On the NewsHour Wednesday, we examined the election results and Judy Woodruff spoke with the New York Times’ Martin about how Christie and McAuliffe were able to win and what it signals for the road ahead.

Watch the segment here or below:

We also examined the import of the three big mayoral races in Detroit, Boston and New York. What do the newly elected officials say about those cities and how policy is made? Gwen Ifill spoke with Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution and Emily Badger of Atlantic Cities.

They discussed the candidates’ ability to get through to voters with an economic message — and even progressive promises — and noted that with the Bloomberg and Menino eras coming to an end in New York and Boston, Tuesday’s election results present dramatic change.

Watch the segment here or below:


Should a predominantly Christian town in upstate New York be allowed to start its government meetings with a bowing of heads and an invocation of a higher power, often Jesus Christ?

That was the question before the Supreme Court Wednesday as the justices heard a constitutional challenge to one town’s practice from two women, one who is an aetheist and the other who is Jewish. They say the prayers breach the divide between church and state and violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

They hoped the Supreme Court would untangle a 30-year-old decision that allows chaplains’ invocations at the start of legislative session, which has led to confusion in lower courts.

Much depends upon the way the nine justices interpret the Establishment Clause, the first 10 words of the First Amendment that say, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

“The court has come up with a number of tests for Establishment Clause violations, and none of those tests appear to satisfy all of the justices at any one time,” Marcia Coyle said on the NewsHour Wednesday.

There’s the trouble. While the women ask merely for a ruling on the practice of prayer at local government meetings, others hope for broader pronouncements from the justices. For instance, members of Congress including Sen. Marco Rubio have lent their support to the town, fearing a ruling that could limit Congress’ practice of prayer before session.

A sweeping curtailment on prayer from the Supreme Court seems unlikely, Coyle said.

“Part of what we are trying to do here is to maintain a multi-religious society in a peaceful and harmonious way,” Justice Elena Kagan said during the arguments. “And every time the Court gets involved in things like this, it seems to make the problem worse rather than better.”

On the NewsHour Wednesday, we began with a report from Tim O’Brien that originally aired on PBS’s Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly. Then Jeffrey Brown spoke with Coyle. Watch here or below:


  • McAuliffe announced the day after his victory that his first executive order will be to ban discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender state employees, a state version of of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act pending in Congress. McAuliffe also pledged in his first press conference that he and his family members would not take gifts valued at more than $100 while governor, a tweak of the current Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, who is facing an ethics investigation in part due to gifts from a donor. The two are meeting Thursday for a discussion about the transition.
  • Jimmy Carter’s grandson Jason Carter will run for governor in Georgia against Republican Gov. Nathan Deal. He’s not the same Carter grandson who helped to leak the “47 percent” video that doomed Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, as evidenced by this excellent Carter family tree via New York Magazine.
  • After SeaTac voters chose to raise the Washington municipality’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, the measure’s labor-activist supporters hope to impose the same change in Seattle.
  • The White House is going after GOP governors for opting out of Medicaid.
  • Former pro football player Rep. Jon Runyan, R-N.J., will not seek reelection in 2014. Runyan is one of 17 House Republicans who represent a district that the president won in 2012, making his district a target for Democrats who are looking to gain House seats next fall.
  • Democrats jumped all over an interview GOP Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas did with Roll Call, during which he said, “Everything we do in this body should be about messaging to win back the Senate.” The opposition razzed Sessions and his party to suggest that the Republicans aren’t interested in governing.
  • And Politico looks at the Senate GOP’s strategy to make sure the best candidates win their primaries.
  • Sixteen Senate Democrats met with Mr. Obama at the White House Wednesday to discuss the flawed health care rollout. Most from that group are up for re-election in 2014.
  • Roll Call’s Emma Dumain reported that some Republicans are planning to draft a resolution to impeach Attorney General Eric Holder by the end of this year.
  • Of course Vice President Joe Biden called the wrong Marty Walsh in Boston Tuesday to congratulate a mayoral win.
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. introduced a proposal in the Senate that would ban late-term abortions, meaning abortions after 5 months of pregnancy.
  • A former US Agency for International Development official who resigned amid allegations of contract rigging has started a new job as Chief Operating Officer at the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Education.
  • Paul told his staff he’s got new rules about citation in his speeches after he faced accusations of plagiarism for citing a sci-fi movie in a speech that included lines gathered from Wikipedia, the Associated Press reports. A Paul aide told the AP that the Kentucky Republican’s office plans to make footnotes available on request, and will seek to make attribution to other people’s work more complete.
  • What do country music star George Strait, the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin have in common? They’re on Thursday’s list of top ten stories from the Associated Press.
  • Christina analyzed the Virginia election as a guest on the Kojo Nnamdi Show Wednesday. Listen here. Former Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., was also a guest on the show. He made some news by saying if the state GOP opts again for a nominating convention over a primary to find a challenger for Democratic Sen. Mark Warner in 2014, that “makes the Senate race a throwaway for Republicans.”
  • “Obamacare” got some yuks at the Country Music Awards.
  • Whoops! We used the wrong link in an item Wednesday about accents. Take the quiz here, really this time.
  • A Whig Party candidate won in a Philadelphia municipal election Tuesday, the first such party representative elected in the City of Brotherly Love since the 1850s.
  • Think politicians bicker like a married couple? That may be true for Democrat Jennifer Johnson, who defeated her husband, a Republican, in a local Maine election on Tuesday. The husband and wife said they wanted to show that Democrats and Republicans can get along, but admitted that they sometimes butt heads over fiscal issues.

NEWSHOUR: #notjustaTVshow

  • What’s that ringing sound? Miles O’Brien has a detailed report on tinnitus.
  • Kwame Holman rounded up the latest health care hearing with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Watch the hearing here.
  • Meet Kamala Khan, the daughter of Pakistani immigrants and the first Muslim female superhero to star in her very own Marvel series.
  • Are people holding the rum? The vice index suggests booze could be on the decline ahead of the holiday season.
  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.







Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

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