Elections Have Consequences

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on November 5, 2009

And when elections are won, the consequences can be good in quite a number of ways:

Election Day losses in Virginia and New Jersey have congressional Democrats focused like never before on jobs — their own.

While the White House and party leaders are urging calm, Democratic incumbents from red states and Republican-leaning districts are anything but; Tuesday’s statehouse defeats have left them acutely aware that their votes on health care reform and other major Obama initiatives could be career-enders in 2010 or beyond.

“I should be nervous,” said Rep. Parker Griffith, a freshman Democrat from Huntsville, Ala.

Griffith said the Democratic rank and file is “very, very sensitive” to the fact that issues being pushed by party leaders “have the potential to cost some of our front-line members their seats.”

House Democrats, forced to take a tough vote on a controversial cap-and-trade climate change bill in June, may have to vote as earlier as this weekend on the even more controversial health care bill. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team have struggled to get moderates on board for that vote, and Tuesday’s results won’t make the task any easier.

“People who had weak knees before are going to have weaker knees now,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), a relatively liberal congressman who seemed safe in 2010 but now thinks a Republican challenger might feel emboldened by Tuesday’s election results.

There are a lot of Democrats who like to write off Tuesday’s election results since the sample size is small, and since Democrats were able to pull out a win in NY-23 (see my analysis of the election here). It would seem, however, that the elections are already beginning to pay dividends for Republicans, and may continue to pay dividends down the line. Perhaps it would behoove Democrats to be a bit more worried.

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