GOP strategists say the party has bounced back from the defeat of 2008 after winning Tuesday's gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia (despite President Obama's personal efforts to buoy up Democrats Jon Corzine and Creigh Deeds). Commentators are divided about what the results can teach Republicans about winning in 2010. (Watch Newt Gingrich sound off on the GOP's 2010 chances)
Republicans shouldn't go too far right: Tuesday's elections provided "the first tangible evidence" that Republicans can win over independent voters, says Dan Balz in The Washington Post. The victories of Bob McDonnell, a social conservative who campaigned as a moderate in Virginia, and Chris Christie in New Jersey showed that all it takes is "the right kind of candidates and the right messages." Still, the surprise loss of a GOP House seat in upstate New York suggests that "Republicans could squander that opportunity if they demand candidates who are too conservative to appeal to the middle."
"Contests serve as warning to Democrats: It's not 2008 anymore"
The GOP just needs to tap into anti-Democrat anger: "One of the big surprises of this year," says Michael Barone in the Washington Examiner, "has been the spontaneous outpouring of spirited opposition to the Democrats' big government programs and the disappearance of the enthusiasm that propelled Obama and Democrats to their big wins in 2008. The question is how Republicans can harness that enthusiasm."
"Va., N.J. races show voters changing course"
The lesson—Republicans have to change: Conservatives claim they've got their groove back, says Peter Beinart in The Daily Beast, "but it’s not the same old groove." In the 1990s, GOP candidates won by hammering on social issues such as abortion, gay rights, and gun control. Now, the "hard-right tea-party" crowd can't see beyond its "anti-government crusade." If the economy improves, their obsession will likely "strike swing voters as irrelevant and obnoxious."
"Behind the Democratic wipeout"