1. The 2016 Republican primary is a search for "not-Christie."
The media have crowned New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as the presumptive Republican nominee in the next presidential election. (They will turn on him as soon as it matters.) Republican voters want a candidate who can win, but they are not in the mood to pick yet another blue-state moderate who is weak on ObamaCare and a variety of other issues. The search for "not-Christie" is on, and the question is whether anyone can match his charisma or his fundraising.
2. Bill de Blasio still has to earn respect.
New York City was eager for a change, especially after Bloomberg overstayed his welcome: it was all but certain that a Democrat would win. De Blasio was long considered too radical, but benefited from Anthony Weiner's self-destruction and a split between the other frontrunners. Yet his support remains shallow, and New Yorkers may quickly reject his policies. If he keeps the best of the Giuliani-Bloomberg legacy, voters will continue to overlook the occasional leftist indulgence.
3. The Tea Party is alive and fighting.
Ken Cuccinelli was a Tea Party leader from the beginning, and led the legal challenge to ObamaCare. So a loss for him is a blow to the movement. Yet he was supposed to lose by double digits, and came very close to winning, especially once he focused his message on ObamaCare. A consensus is emerging Cuccinelli relied too heavily on old Republican campaign hands--and was
abandoned by an establishment eager to see a conservative defeated. That will steel the Tea Party for fights to come.
4. Vote Libertarian, get bigger government.
Conservatives got the lesson that liberals got in 2000. While a dissenting vote for a third party has a certain narcissistic appeal, in America's winner-take-all system, it is effectively a vote for the candidate you like least. Terry McAuliffe did not win a majority in Virginia, but a win is a win, and the Libertarian vote made the difference several times over. If the intent was to send a message to Republicans, the effect was to remind the voters of the importance of party unity.
5. Social conservatism remains the GOP riddle.
The biggest challenge facing Republicans, especially as 2016 draws nearer, is how to run socially conservative candidates that do not alienate socially liberal voters. Pointing out the Democrats' radical values on issues such as abortion only goes so far. There are no easy answers, and what works in one state may not work in another. The only general rule is that candidates do better when they can project a sense of tolerance toward others, regardless of differences of values.
6. The media are still a joke.
If you needed further proof of the media's bias, you needed no more than they provided on Election Day, when National Public Radio aired a story about money in politics that focused on an obscure judicial election in Michigan rather than the millions flowing into McAuliffe's campaign in Virginia. High-minded journalists generally care about money in politics only when it benefits Republicans. Otherwise they are content to look the other way--especially for a Clinton crony like Big Mac.
7. The President is still in trouble.
While ObamaCare's defenders rushed to declare
McAuliffe's win a victory for ObamaCare, that is wishful thinking. (Republicans could