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20 August 2017 21:18 (South Africa)

Both Republicans and Democrats make gains; Obama coattails overrated

Republicans pulled off two important victories in US off-year elections, while Democrats made a surprising win themselves. Republican Chris Christie unseated Democratic governor Jon Corzine in New Jersey, and Republican Robert McDonnell beat Creigh Deeds for Virginia governor. But Democratic candidate Bill Owens held off conservative Republican Doug Hoffman for a congressional seat in the strongly Republican upstate New York. Conservative icons such as Sarah Palin and talk show host Glenn Beck had campaigned hard for Hoffman and Hoffman had forced the original Republican candidate, Dede Scozzfava, out of the race for not being sufficiently conservative. This special by-election took place because President Barack Obama had appointed the previous Republican congressman from that district as his secretary of the army. New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg held off a spirited challenge and won his third term of office, while a same-sex marriage referendum was defeated in Maine. The moral of this tale seems to be that Barack Obama retains his own personal support and popularity according to polling, but has been generally unable to transfer it to other Democratic candidates. Off-year elections are most often fought over local issues and these elections appeared to be no exception. Read more: New York Times

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