Victory for laissez faire?

In what seems a mini referendum on government economic policies, the Democrats lost big in Virginia, and in New Jersey Governor Corzine lost to Chris Christie, despite the personal intervention of President Barack Obama in both races. Like most people, New Jerseyans don't seem to take kindly to personal insults, and I think it proved to be an unforgivable error for Corzine to have ridiculed his opponent's personal appearance. (If I lived in NJ, I'd have voted for Christie for that reason alone.)

As to the race which so many people are watching (NY-23), in what is described as "not good news for political junkies," there may not be final results any time soon because of scanner problems:

This is not good news for political junkies hoping to get a winner in New York's 23rd Congressional District before bedtime: There are voting machine problems in St. Lawrence County, one of the more populous areas in the district.

The Watertown Daily Times says there are problems with the new scanners that read the ballots in the towns of Louisville, Waddington, Rossie and Clare.

"We may not have results from those towns tonight," St. Lawrence County Board of Elections Deputy Commissioner Thomas Nichols told the paper.

St. Lawrence County accounted for 41,000 votes -- about 17% of the total -- in the 2008 congressional election.

Public opinion polls suggested that tonight's race between Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman and Democrat Bill Owens would be close. The polls closed at 9 p.m. ET in New York.

And so far, Ann Arbor has nothing to report either. (Not that this is a blog for Ann Arborites, but I do live here.)

So in terms of the big nationally watched elections, there's really nothing for me to report or "live blog" -- other than to remark the obvious fact that if this is a test of the national mood, the Democrats are not holding up well.

As to social issues, I think it's worth noting that so far, this appears to have been a good night for gay rights. According to John Aravosis, a gay rights ordinance in Kalamazoo, Michigan is passing:

...65 percent of Kalamazoo voters have approved Ordinance 1856 by a vote of 6,463 to 3,527, adding protections for gay and transgender people to the city's nondiscrimination ordinance.
And in what could be a historic first, Maine voters are (so far) surprisingly close to approving same sex marriage:
Voters had to decide whether to repeal or affirm a state law that would allow gay couples to wed. The law was passed by the Legislature in May but never took effect because of a petition drive by conservatives.

Early returns showed a close contest, as had been forecast. With 70 of 608 precincts reporting, the gay-marriage side had 53 percent to 47 percent for the other side.

A vote to uphold the law would mark the first time that the electorate in any state endorsed gay marriage. That could energize activists nationwide and blunt conservative claims that same-sex marriage is being foisted on states by judges or lawmakers over the will of the public.

Bear in mind that none of these results are final.

It's a mixed bag, but if I had to venture an interpretation based on what I've seen so far, I'd say things are looking pretty good for economic and social laissez faire.

MORE: The Ann Arbor measure to increase property taxes I blogged about earlier is failing by a fairly wide margin.

Even in ultra liberal Ann Arbor, voters don't like tax increases.

Democrats take note!

AND MORE: According to the Washington Examiner, Owens is beating Hoffman in NY-23:

In New York's 23rd Congressional District, Democrat Bill Owens had a substantial lead over Conservative Doug Hoffman.
Ditto, NY Daily News: NY-23, Democrat Bill Owens is peforming a lot better than expected. Thirty-one percent of precincts are reporting and he's leading Conservative Doug Hoffman, 51.1 percent to 43.9 percent.

This despite Monday's Siena poll that found Hoffman leading by five percent with 18 percent undecided.

Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, whose name is still on the ballot despite the fact that she ended her campaign last Saturday and threw her support to Owens Sunday, is receiving 5 percent of the vote.

The mood here at the Hotel Saranac is grim - at best. There's a lot of muttering going on and worried phone calls being placed.

Although I had misgivings about Hoffman's social conservatism, it's clear that Scozzafava was not a Republican in any way, not even economically.


Perhaps the voters had had it with all the national hype, and finally decided they'd rather just vote for a Democrat who said he was a Democrat rather than be dragged against their will into a much-hyped "referendum" on a "bloody Republican civil war" they never asked to fight.

If you think about it, it is a way of voting against the incumbency. (The outside media incumbency, that is...)

Maybe even an act of leave-us-the-hell-alone laissez faire.

MORE: Same sex marriage now appears to be losing in Maine:

With 69 percent of precincts reporting, roughly 51.8 percent of voters had voted in favor of rejecting the same-sex marriage law passed by the Legislature earlier this spring. Roughly 48.2 percent of voters had voted no on Question 1.
Frankly, I'm surprised it's this close, and I'd have been amazed if it won. Just a few years ago, the vote could easily have been expected to be 70-30 against gay marriage.

CORRECTION (11/04/09): I was mistaken in last night's analysis of the Ann Arbor election results. While WWISD PROPOSAL I (the property tax increase) did in fact fail, it failed county-wide, but appears that a majority of Ann Arbor voters favored it. (I have not done the totals, but I can see that it only lost in one precinct, and lost among the absentee voters.)

AND MORE: I am glad to see I am not alone in my thoughts about what might have happened in NY-23. Here's Don Surber:

In choosing Democrat Bill Owens over Conservative Doug Hoffman, perhaps the people of the district were telling outsiders to butt out.
Via Glenn Reynolds.

AND EVEN MORE: Speaking of not being alone in my thoughts, don't miss Roger L. Simon's analysis!

In a year where the GOP racked up a 20% margin in Virginia and coasted easily in Jersey, a state in which Obama romped in '08 by 16%, what was the problem?

Well... I might as well say it... social conservatism. America is a fiscally conservative country - now perhaps more than ever, and with much justification - but not a socially conservative one. No, I don't mean to say it's socially liberal. It's not. It's socially laissez-faire (just as its mostly fiscally laissez-faire). Whether we're pro-choice, pro-life or whatever we are, most of us want the government out of our bedrooms, just as we want it out of our wallets.

Hoffman's capital-C Conservative campaign, however, tried to separate itself from the majority parties by making a big deal of the social issues. He was all upset that Scozzafava was pro-gay marriage, seemingly as upset as he was with her support for the stimulus plan. He projected the image of a bluenose in a world that increasingly doesn't want to hear about these things. Hoffman's is a selective vision of the nanny state - you can nanny about some things but not about others. I suspect America deeply dislikes nannying about anything.

Truer words were never spoken.

However, I think the opponents of laissez faire will simply gear up for the next battle.

posted by Eric on 11.03.09 at 10:28 PM


Are you surprised or just unhappy that gay marriage almost passed in Maine?

Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.

Some love too little, some too long,
Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
Yet each man does not die.

Frank   ·  November 4, 2009 1:54 AM

A favorite tune from Querelle!

(The results were not surprising, and I'm usually unhappy during elections.)

Eric Scheie   ·  November 4, 2009 10:47 AM

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I wish that increasingly number of webmasters would reckon the fact that there is an ever growing number of users browsing webpages on the mobile.
Best Wishes

Anonymous   ·  November 4, 2009 1:27 PM

Thanks for letting me know, Anon.

Did you use the PDA link?

Eric Scheie   ·  November 4, 2009 1:34 PM

Interesting article. I thought to let you know that you website isn't getting displayed properly on android mobile web browser on my mobile phone.

I wish that more and more number of web site owners would deliberate upon the fact that there is an ever growing number of users browsing webpages on the mobile.

Anonymous   ·  November 4, 2009 7:16 PM

I'm pretty sure you're talking to a bot.

Veeshir   ·  November 5, 2009 9:24 AM

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