New Jersey, Virginia, New York Races Show Republican Need to Expand the Tent

Hopefully, they will learn the right lessons on Tuesday.

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By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

It's pretty clear what's going to happen in next week's gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey and the Congressional special election in New York's 23rd district—both parties will start passing out blame for defeats by the time the polls close Tuesday.

The Virginia race in particular gives the GOP an opportunity to redefine itself. Bob McDonnell shunned the far-right angry rhetoric and stuck to kitchen-table issues—like jobs, taxes, and transportation—that conservatives, moderates, and independents wanted to hear about. The latest Gallup poll this week shows that many of those same independent voters nationally have started to move to the right, and between now and the midterm elections the Republican Party has an opportunity to keep that momentum from the Virginia race going if it sticks with McDonnell's winning strategy.

David Frum predicts a win in Virginia, and then takes a look at the other races:

"What lessons will Republicans draw? You might think that the impending defeats in New York and New Jersey would drive home the need to broaden the Republican coalition. A candidate like [Conservative Party nominee Doug] Hoffman would have been the better candidate for New York's 23rd CD; a candidate like [independent Chris] Daggett the better candidate for suburban New Jersey. Republicans have to find ways to accommodate both types of candidates and both kinds of constituencies. But the risk is that the party will draw a very different conclusion. From the New York experience, Republicans will be tempted to draw the lesson: Always nominate the more conservative candidate. From New Jersey: We need to drive pro-environmental fiscal moderates out of our party and into the Democratic Party where they belong!"

"We need more voices," House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican, told Politico last week. "Our party's challenge has been that we need to be more inclusive—we need to attract the middle again. ... When one party controls all the levers of power in Washington, they're going to try and villainize whoever they can on our side. It gives us an opportunity now to try and harness the energy and point it in a positive direction, so that we can attract the middle of the country to the common-sense conservative views that we have been about as a party." That's the lesson I hope everyone draws on Tuesday.