Elections 2013: Is the US moving to the Left?

You may recall my post last August about E.W. Jackson, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor here in Virginia, who said, among other strange things, that by supporting same-sex marriage, “the Democrat party” was “going in an anti-God, anti-Christian, anti-family, anti-life, and even anti-Israel direction and that this was no longer a party that any Christian could be associated with.”

Nevertheless more than 55 percent of Virginia voters, presumably including some Christians, chose to be associated with Jackson’s Democratic opponent in Tuesday’s election.

The race for attorney general is still too close to call, but in the race for governor, Democrat Terry McAuliffe beat Republican Ken Cuccinelli by a smaller margin. Neither candidate was particularly popular; McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has a reputation as a slick political fixer, and Cuccinelli, currently the state attorney general, has alienated a lot of Virginians with his positions on homosexuality, abortion, the environment and health care.

By contrast McAuliffe supports gay rights, abortion rights, strong environmental protections and expanding Medicaid coverage to 400,000 uninsured Virginians under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).

Cuccinelli tried to turn the race into a referendum on Obamacare. But even at a moment when the rollout of that program has been a widely-publicized disaster, it wasn’t enough to change the result.

(An interesting stat: Virginia holds elections for governor every four years, one year after the elections for US president. Since 1977, every winner of the gubernatorial election was of the opposite party of the president elected the year before. Until this week.)

Perhaps the most interesting election result on Tuesday was in New Jersey, where voters not only reelected Republican Chris Christie (whose infamous hug with Barack Obama, among other things, had rightwing Republicans muttering “RINO”); but also approved with 61 percent of the vote an increase in the state minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25, and tying future increases to inflation.

Christie, in his traditional Republican mode, had vetoed an increase in the minimum wage approved by the state legislature, and opposed the ballot referendum.

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne suggests that these results, along with the overwhelming election of Bill DeBlasio as mayor of New York, mean the US is moving politically leftward.

I’ll withhold judgment on that for the time being.