Following an attack that conservatives previewed prior to the elections, Fox News and other right-wing media have seized on gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey to baselessly declare, in Dick Morris' words, that the results were a “deathblow to Obamacare” and have argued that the election should send a message to moderate Democrats. But exit polls do not support these claims, showing that in both states, the voters who cited health care as a top concern sided with the Democrat in the race.
Conservative media declare VA, NJ elections show “Obamacare” dead
Fox News graphic: If GOP wins VA, NJ governor races, “no gov't-run option” in health care reform. As an example, during the November 2 edition of Fox News' Your World, an on-screen graphic read, “If GOP wins both races” in Virginia and New Jersey, “Impact on health care: no govt-run option.” [Your World with Neil Cavuto, 11/2/09]
Hannity to NJ listeners: “Get to the polls” and “stop Obamacare in its tracks.” On Election Day, Sean Hannity addressed New Jersey voters on his radio show : “If you want change, you better get to the polls. These final minutes matter, these final couple of hours matter. Get to the polls. It's -- you can literally stop Obamacare in its tracks. Now, even if it's close, I think it still has the net effect of doing that.” [ABC Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show, 11/3/09]
Carlson: "[T]he elections last night may have a big impact on those Blue Dog Democrats." On Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson stated: "[T]he elections last night may have a big impact on those Blue Dog Democrats -- the conservative Democrats -- in the way in which they approach health care now. Because if they think that the tide was changing, even though it was only two states from last night, they may be more apt to listen to the American people in their states who are saying, hold on, let's not spend so much money." [Fox News' Fox & Friends, 11/4/09]
Doocy: "[G]iven the dynamics of what happened," don't “be surprised” if senators “start sounding more like Joe Lieberman.” Also on Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy said of the election results: "[D]on't be surprised, given the dynamics of what happened in those stunning GOP wins last night, if some senators start siding and start sounding more like Joe Lieberman. You know, why do we have to change everything when it comes to health care? Maybe we should just do it incrementally." [Fox & Friends, 11/4/09]
Dick Morris: “A deathblow to Obamacare.” In a November 4 New York Post column, Morris wrote:
Chris Christie's gutsy win in New Jersey puts the arrogant big spender Jon Corzine in his place. But it is the election in Virginia that probably has more to say to marginal Democratic congressmen considering how to vote on health-care reform.
Until last night, Democratic moderates, the so-called blue dogs, could bask in the light of their candidate's success in 2008. But now they must hear hoof beats behind them. The party discipline on which Obama depends to pass a health-care program that Americans reject by 42 percent for, 55 percent against (Rasmussen again) will only work if beleaguered Democratic incumbents can wrap themselves in Obama's cloak and tough out the popular criticism.
In the coming weeks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will be asking their troops to cast potentially career-ending votes for health-care changes, Medicare cuts, higher taxes and fines on the uninsured. Whether they take that risk depends on their faith in Obama's drawing power.
Fox News contributor Pat Caddell: "[T]here are heavy implications on this for health care." Caddell said of the election results: “I do think there are heavy implications on this for health care. ... If I were not only a Blue Dog Democrat, you look at what happened in the coal country in the western part of Virginia, which, in fact, Democrats often have never lost, lost last night, I would worry. But I'll tell you what. It's not just the Blue dogs. It's in these Northern, Midwestern suburbs where liberal democrats sit, and those voters looked like they are very unhappy about things.”
Morrissey: Results “huge blow to Obama and his agenda,” specifically “ObamaCare and cap-and-trade.” Ed Morrissey wrote of the election results on his Hot Air blog and asserted: “Being the President's 'partner' on his radical agenda is not a winning position; it wasn't for Corzine in what should have been a secure blue state, and it certainly won't be in moderate or conservative districts and states held by Democrats in the House and Senate. That is a huge blow to Obama and his agenda, as Democrats now have to consider unpopular bills for ObamaCare and cap-and-trade in an entirely new light. If they fall in behind Obama instead of listening to their constituents, they will find themselves in retirement after the 2010 midterms. That's the big lesson, and it will not be lost on moderate Democrats.” [Hot Air, 11/4/09]
Exit polls show that voters concerned with health care sided with Democrat
NJ: 78 percent of health care voters voted for Corzine. According to New Jersey exit polls, 17 percent of voters indicated that “health care” was the “one issue” that “mattered most in deciding how you voted for governor.” Of that 17 percent, 78 percent voted for the Democrat, Jon Corzine. From the exit poll (as published by The New York Times):
VA: 51 percent of health care voters voted for Deeds. According to Virginia exit polls, 24 percent of respondents indicated that “health care” was the “one issue” that “mattered most in deciding how you voted for governor.” Of that 24 percent, 51 percent voted for the Democrat, Creigh Deeds. From the exit poll (as published by The New York Times):