Tuesday's Republican victories in the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races confirmed Democrats' worst fears — that independents are no longer leaning their way, Charlie Cook observes in the National Journal.
Even before the elections, it was clear that "the love affair independents had with Democratic candidates in 2006 and 2008 was over," Cook writes.
"Independents haven't turned against President Obama. They've just stepped back, become more skeptical, and to some extent begun turning on Democrats as a party."
In the Virginia governor's race, independents who had been leaning toward Democrats in recent years swung this time toward Republican Bob McDonnell and spurned Democrat Creigh Deeds, because independents were comfortable with McDonnell, according to Cook.
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"The lesson for Republicans to learn from the outcome in Virginia is that they can win with a staunchly conservative candidate in a purple state if that conservative projects a moderate, mainstream, nonthreatening, tolerant image and thus doesn't scare off swing voters," Cook writes, adding: "We already knew Democrats had problems. Tuesday just confirmed it."
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