The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Off-year elections as bellwethers

November 8, 2005

John Whitesides, of Reuters, writes:

Voters across the United States went to the polls on Tuesday in elections that could gauge the depth of President George W. Bush’s political woes and affect next year’s critical congressional elections….With control of both chambers of the U.S. Congress and 36 governorships at stake in 2006, both parties will scour Tuesday’s off-year election results for clues to next year’s political climate and the long-term effect of Bush’s plummeting approval ratings, now the lowest of his presidency.

Mark Kennedy,of the Associated Press, tells us that, without a doubt, “Today’s Voting Could Be Test for GOP”:

Voters in New Jersey and Virginia picked governors Tuesday after high-spending, mean-spirited campaigns that were closely watched by political analysts for signs of the public’s mood ahead of next year’s midterm elections. Elsewhere, New York and a few other major cities selected mayors.

I have a question to put this all in perspective. Why is it that no one wrote the following headline on the first Tuesday in November last year: “Election Could Gauge Political Climate for 2005”?

Anyway, I seem to remember Democrats winning the two “key” elections in 2001. That sure told us a lot about what was going to happen in 2002.

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.