It was the tale of two states last night in the high profile gubernatorial races. In New Jersey, Chris Christie a non Tea Party, conservative Republican won big. Meanwhile, in Virginia, it was a narrow Democratic win for Terry McAuliffe, powered by the states women vote that was the game changer.
Lets go to New Jersey first:
Gov. Chris Christie was re-elected with ease Tuesday, demonstrating the kind of broad, bipartisan appeal that will serve as his opening argument should he seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
The Associated Press called the race based on interviews with voters as they left polling places. The interviews were conducted for the AP and television networks ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News by Edison Research.
While the final margin of victory over little-known Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono was still being tabulated in this Democratic-leaning state, Christie was expected to become the first Republican in a quarter-century to receive more than 50 percent of the New Jersey vote. This, in a state that President Barack Obama carried a year ago by more than 17 points, his biggest margin in the nation.
Backed by soaring approval ratings for his leadership after Superstorm Sandy, the tell-it-like-it-is governor built a winning coalition by aggressively courting constituencies that often shun the GOP: minorities, women and even Democrats, who outnumber Republicans among registered voters by more than 3-to-2.
Christie, who is openly considering running for president, has said his success offers a template for broadening the GOP’s appeal after the disastrous 2012 election cycle and the party’s record-low approval ratings following the recent government shutdown. Christie will take over later this month as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, a position that will further raise his national profile.
Christie becomes his party’s biggest winner on a night in which the GOP was expected to lose a gubernatorial election in Virginia that featured conservative firebrand Ken Cuccinelli. Christie, in contrast, painted himself as a pragmatic leader who worked with Democrats to get the job done during his four years in office.
Now to Virginia:
Women and unmarried voters played a crucial role in Democratic businessman Terry McAuliffe’s surprisingly narrow win in the Virginia governor’s race over Republican state attorney general Ken Cuccinelli.
Polls throughout the race found Cuccinelli, a tea party-backed social conservative, lagging among women. While final exit poll results weren’t yet available, data late Tuesday showed McAuliffe leading Cuccinelli by 9 percentage points among women, 51 percent to 42 percent. Cuccinelli had a 3-point lead among men, 48 percent to 45 percent.
The division along the lines of marital status was especially stark.
Cuccinelli was ahead among married people of both genders, with a 6-point lead among married men and a 9-point lead among married women. But unmarried voters, especially women, preferred McAuliffe by wide margins. He beat Cuccinelli by 25 points among unmarried men and 42 points among unmarried women. Unmarried voters made up about a third of Tuesday’s electorate, according to polls.