"Remember, remember the fifth of November," the saying goes in England, in memorium of a failed attempt to blow up Parliament. But also, perhaps, the saying works in America this year: despite what the Guardian calls the "historically boring affair," this year's Election Day and its national implications are actually pretty interesting. Two gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia, two mayoral races in New York and Detroit, and a little election in Alabama all promise big implications for the nation. Here's your cheat sheet:
Some key gubernatorial races...
In New Jersey, incumbent Governor Chris Christie is opposed by state senator Barbara Buono (D). Christie's heavily favored to win, mostly due to his willingness to play the bipartisan game. So far, he has a 37-point lead with men, a 21-point lead with women, and has even pulled in 30 percent of Democrats and 20 percent of the African-American vote. If he wins today, Christie will also strengthen his chances at a GOP presidential nomination.
"With his appeal to independent voters, and even Democrats, Christie-for-President 2016 begins a few minutes after 8 o'clock tomorrow night," Quinnipiac polling director Maurice Carroll said yesterday.
Another state race with national implications is the gubernatorial election in Virginia, where Terry McAuliffe (D) goes against Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) in the polls. Voting booths in the state have been noticeably crowded today, and for good reason: McAuliffe, like President Obama in his 2008 campaign, has courted young voters, women, and minorities in a state that hasn't had a governor share the same political party as a current president since 1977. If McAuliffe's strategy works as well it did for Obama, expect it to go national in campaigns for half-term elections next year. But besides Obama's backing, McAuliffe has another thing going for him: Socially conservative Cuccinelli has ties to the Tea Party, and is famously alienating to women. If he loses, it may prove that being staunchly anti-choice is a bad policy for GOP candidates in the region.
“If the polls hold true and [Ken] Cuccinelli loses, it shows that successful Republicans drive down the middle of the right-hand side of the road — they don’t drive off into the ditch on the right,” Virginia-based Republican pollster Whit Ayres said.
Mayoral elections to watch...
Control of New York City, is likely to go to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio (D), who's leading former deputy mayor and chief of the city's transit system Joe Llota (R) in polls. Should the self-described "perpetual underdog" win, voters hoping that, as the first Democratic mayor since 1989, he'll follow through on his liberal agenda of campaign promises, like ending stop-and-frisk.
Either way, his son has awesome hair.
Another major U.S. city, Detroit, also has a mayoral opening. The city filed for bankruptcy in July, so whichever candidate wins is going to have his job cut out for him. Businessman Mike Duggan faces off against Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, and if elected, Duggan will be the first white mayor in a majority-black city since 1974.
And then there's one little election in Alabama.
Alabama will also be a hotspot today, but for quite the unique reason: Tea Party Republican Dean Young is up against standard-grade Republican Bradley Byrne in the state's primary elections for the House of Representatives. The election could be an important gauge for the validity voters place in Tea Party policies, and, as a challenge to the traditional Republican vanguard, it actually has some of the GOP worried: some of Young's outspoken antics (including calling for Obama's impeachment and publicly pulling his support for Speaker of the House John Boehner) haven't sat well within the candidate's own party, leading to a huge lack of support from conservative groups. And then there's this Guardian interview.
Stay tuned for the results, and don't forget to take a #votingselfie!