Most disappointing, I think, in Maine, where once again the reactionary forces of bigotry turned out in greater numbers than the forces of goodness and light, and repealed the state's same-sex marriage law. The civil rights efforts of this generation have been dealt another severe setback. (At the same time, Washington State seems to have approved fully equal rights for civil unions; good for them.)
The Virginia race suggests two things: One, Democrats will have to work very hard--and will need to recapture or somehow replace the personally inspirational figure of Barack Obama--to spur base turnout in 2010. It doesn't seem that the voters who elected Obama in Virginia rejected him last night; rather, they stayed home, and that's a different, but equally deadly, problem. Two, it suggests that contra the tea-party philosophy, Republicans who run away from the crazy (Bob McDonnell did everything he could to paint himself as a reasonable moderate) can win. Put that up against NY-23, where the in-all-but-name Republican went the Full Palin, and lost a seat that Republicans had held since 1850 to the moderate Democrat. (The other federal race, CA-10, also went to the Democrat. Two races does not a trend make--it takes three!--but clearly voters did not reject Nancy Pelosi, either, last night.)
In New Jersey, I think the lesson is that when things are sucky, it's difficult for an incumbent to win, even against a scandal-mired candidate. (I'm sure many Republicans believe this is the lesson of 2008.) NJ's economic climate is ugly--much moreso than Virginia's--and the vote there is clearly a rejection of current policies in a way that Virginia's vote, where there was no incumbent and the Democrat was not all that closely tied to his predecessor, was probably not.
More locally, the North Shore once again suggests it's not necessarily going to be receptive to the Full Palin--no tax is a good tax--in the future, either. Not that I love taxes or that I think the first answer to any question is to raise them, but the tea-party vanguard has at its core the polar opposite of that message, and it did not win last night in New York, in Whitefish Bay, or anywhere else.
And one final question remains, one year out from 2010: Who's our Democratic candidate for governor? I said it wouldn't be me, but clearly they must be getting pretty far along the list of people ahead of me who would all have to say no before it's my turn. I mean, seriously, guys. Someone's gotta step up.