In 2008, Americans voted for change in overwhelming numbers. Just one short year later, voters in Virginia and New Jersey voted to change back.
It's hard to read any other overall conclusion into the results of the "off-year" elections in these disparate states. In 2008, Virginia officially went "blue" for the first time since 1964, voting for Barack Obama by a seven-point margin. This result was nearly a mirror image of Virginia's vote totals in the 2004 election, when then-President Bush carried the Old Dominion by eight points. That gentle swing of the pendulum underscores why Virginia has come to be seen as a swing state.
This past year, however, Virginia voters elected Republicans to all statewide offices in a rout, by blowout margins of 14 to 18 percent. It is not a coincidence that these candidates were all endorsed by the NRA Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF), the political arm of your NRA.
The NRA-PVF enjoyed an overall success rate of 98 percent on Election Day in Virginia, also winning in 58 of 59 races for the General Assembly. The NRA-PVF deployed TV and radio ads, direct mail and phone banks to tell Virginia's gun owners which candidates deserved their support. It is no exaggeration to say that the NRA-PVF led the charge in marshaling the vote of gun owners and hunters.
These exceptional numbers are an indication of voters' solid support of the Second Amendment, but the blowout margins also suggest rumblings of widespread voter discontent directed toward Washington.
Gun owners aren't as strong a political force in traditionally blue New Jersey, but were nonetheless successful in dethroning its "F"-rated Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine. Despite his personal fortune of billions and his willingness to spend it, Corzine was unable to stave off a challenge by Republican prosecutor Chris Christie. This race was less of a national bellwether, given Corzine's massive unpopularity and the recent (but definitely not unprecedented) corruption arrests of many New Jersey officials. But no one can miss the national message in the statewide election of a Republican governor in a state where Barack Obama prevailed by 15 points in 2008.
And again in New Jersey, gun owners and hunters were in the vanguard of Corzine's defeat. He drew the ire of the state's hunters by politicizing the management of hunting seasons. His record on the Second Amendment was atrocious. His final anti-gun legislative spasm was a push to enact a "one gun per month" law before he was dumped from office. The bill passed, but was written so poorly that it prevented even gun stores and wholesalers from buying more than one handgun per month. And state politicians continue to wonder why all manner of small businesses and industries are fleeing the state in droves.
Just across the Hudson River, in an even bigger Election Day surprise, the busybody billionaire anti-gun zealot Mike Bloomberg barely survived his own election scare.
First, his enormous ego dictated that he overturn the city's term-limit law so he could run for a third term as mayor. Having done so, he spent more than $100 million of his personal fortune to be re-elected, setting a new record of $180 per vote, the most spent in any election in the country. His nominal, underfunded opponent spent a fraction of that in an underdog campaign, but nonetheless came within five points of unseating Bloomberg. With vanity unfettered by the near-death of his political career, the mayor pronounced it a "great week" and threw himself a ticker-tape parade.
Interestingly, it was one of Bloomberg's signature issues that defined the difference between Virginia's candidates for governor. The victor, former Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell, strongly defended Second Amendment rights despite Bloomberg's constant meddling to try and shut down Virginia gun shows. The loser, former state Sen. Creigh Deeds, flip-flopped, supporting gun show restrictions he once opposed. He gained the support of Bloomberg's ilk and of the fawning media. But he lost the support of Virginia's gun owners--so he lost the election.
It will be interesting to see how many politicians remember the 2009 results heading into the 2010 midterm elections. Clearly, the answer will come between now and November.