Election Night 2013 may have turned out somewhat differently than political polling projected in terms of margin, but the actual voting yielded few surprise winners.
In New Jersey, as expected, Gov. Chris Christie (R) romped to a second term, defeating state Sen. Barbara Buono (D) 60-38 percent. The only question would be whether the governor could bring new Republican state legislators with him, but the legislative chambers remained virtually intact. The initial unofficial count shows the GOP gaining one state Senate seat and two Assembly positions, but strong Democratic majorities remain in both bodies.
In Virginia, though polls were suggesting a Terry McAuliffe win of greater than five points over Ken Cuccinelli – the final Washington Post poll projected a 12-point gap, for example – the actual Democratic margin of victory was only three points, 48-45 percent. McAuliffe only gained his first lead of the night when 91 percent of the vote had been counted. In the lieutenant governor’s race, Democratic state Sen. Ralph Northam defeated Republican E. W. Jackson by 10 points, 55-45 percent. But the race for attorney general is the show-stopper and may be with us for quite a while.
Republican state Sen. Mark Obenshain will likely have about a 1,200-vote lead over Democratic state Sen. Mark Herring when the inevitable re-count begins. Provisional ballots, a total number still unknown, have not yet been counted. When the re-count begins, all ballots will again be tabulated simultaneously in every local courthouse throughout the state. We also likely will have a lengthy ballot challenging process followed by a judicial ruling before the race is finally over. Both candidates attracted just over one million votes.
Virginia turnout appears to be falling in the 41 percent range, about average for a gubernatorial year. The state Senate will now feature at least one special election – that, for Sen. Northam’s seat in Virginia Beach/Norfolk. Eventually, a second election will occur once the attorney general’s race is decided. It is likely that both Obenshain and Herring will continue to serve in the Senate until a winner of the attorney general’s race is finally decided.
Little change occurred in the Virginia House of Delegates. Just one Republican seat appears headed to the Democratic side of the aisle, meaning the GOP two-thirds majority drops by only one position. It was thought a bigger Democratic victory could have brought sizable legislative gains.
Elsewhere, in the important AL-1 special Republican run-off election, former Alabama state senator and gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne held off a late charge from Tea Party-backed candidate Dean Young. Outspending is opponent over 2:1, having almost all prominent endorsements, and outside Independent expenditure spending go his way, former sate Sen. Byrne won a close 52.5 – 47.5 percent battle with local businessman Young. Byrne now advances to the Dec. 17 special general election against Democratic nominee Burton LeFlore, which should be a pro forma affair. The real election was last night, and Byrne will replace resigned Rep. Jo Bonner (R) beginning in January.
Turning to the mayor’s races, Democrat Bill de Blasio scored a 71 percent win to become the first Democrat in 20 years to claim New York City’s top political job.
The result in Boston was much tighter, as state Rep. Marty Walsh scored a 52-48 percent victory over at-large City Councilor John Connolly. Walsh replaces retiring Mayor Tom Menino, the longest-serving mayor in city history.
The Detroit race went to businessman Mike Duggan, who won the right to advance to the run-off election via write-in campaign during the primary. Duggan, who will become the first Caucasian to lead the city in 40 years, tallied a 55-45 percent win over Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon. In Seattle, state Sen. Ed Murray successfully unseated Mayor Mike McGinn by what appears to be a 56-43 percent count.
Further analyses on these races will come when final results are known later in the week.