Being Right: The Path Forward

Being Right: The Path Forward

Last week, both New Jersey and Virginia held gubernatorial elections. The results, which confirmed general predictions, highlighted both strengths and weaknesses currently present in the Republican Party. In Virginia, Terry McAuliffe narrowly beat his Republican counterpart. In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie was easily re-elected for his second term, taking over 60 percent of the votes statewide. The recent gubernatorial elections help point out the changing and somewhat confused political climate of late and the potential for Republicans in the coming years.

Both races were historic in their given states. Virginia once again reaffirmed the state’s potential of consistently voting blue. Heavily populated suburbs and urban areas, especially those around Washington D.C., helped sway the election in favor of the Democratic candidate, McAuliffe. However, McAuliffe did win with more narrow margins than were expected.  Governor Christie, on the other hand, won by astounding margins. Christie was even able to get about one-third of Democratic votes in New Jersey.  However, the election saw turnout at a crippling 38 percent.

The recent elections signal, once again, a changing and somewhat split political climate.  The Virginia gubernatorial race shows that there is not a solid base for either party. The Democrats won, but only by slim margins. If current trends continue, it is possible that Virginia could be a deciding factor in the 2016 presidential election, as it was for President Obama in 2012. If the GOP wants to keep Virginia a red state, it is going to need to focus on the demographics and issues that currently help sway the urban and suburban counties into intensely Democratic areas. 

New Jersey, and more importantly Chris Christie, represents what the party needs to focus on in the next three years. Governor Christie has been able to win as a Republican in a blue state for two terms. Whether Governor Christie will run for or get the Republican nomination for the 2016 Presidential election is yet to be seen. Whomever the candidate ends up being, the GOP needs to focus on unification- both of the party and of the nation. Christie has been well-received by New Jersey voters; he is seen as both effective and bipartisan.

Moreover, people who were negatively affected by the government shutdown earlier this year populate the counties that helped McAuliffe win Virginia. If the GOP wants to win elections, both in 2014 and 2016, it needs to convince the American people that it is the party willing to work across the board to enact real change.  Across the board, approval ratings are low for those in Washington. Between the recent government shutdowns and the recent problems with the kick-start of, Americans have low confidence in the government. If last week’s elections give a snapshot of American politics, it is showing a picture of uncertainty where red states vote blue and blue states vote red. 

The Republican Party still has hope in upcoming elections. For this to come to fruition, the party needs to focus on appearing united in the country’s interests and willing to work across the aisle. This strategy has worked extremely well for Governor Christie. While Cuccinelli lost Viriginia to McAuliffe, the race was close enough that Democrats would be ignorant to believe that they can count on the state to continue to vote blue. With three years until the next Presidential election, low confidence across the board and a political climate that seems unsure, there’s no reason to discount a Republican comeback.

Contact Hannah Loiacono at [email protected].