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Election results show Obama's political coalition unraveling

Election results show defection of independents, plus the low turnout among young and black voters, hurting Democrats.

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Boosted by independents, McDonnell won Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties in northern Virginia. All are suburbs or exurbs of Washington, D.C., that went for Obama in 2008 – seen then as evidence that the Old Dominion was drifting leftward.

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The defection of independents was “the big news in the numbers” from Tuesday’s vote, according to former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer.

Democrats have assumed that independents will back them in supporting larger government programs and more government spending, said Mr. Bauer. “But they are wrong,” said Bauer in a statement on the election’s outcome.

In general, the electorates in both New Jersey and Virginia were disproportionately Republican on Tuesday, says Mr. Sabato at the University of Virginia. GOP voters were energized and eager to vote. Democrats were not.

For instance, young voters, a core Democratic constituency, last year made up 20 percent of the electorate in Virginia. This year, they were only 10 percent of voters.

The same dynamic occurred with African-Americans, another largely Democratic segment of voters. Last year African-Americans were 20 percent of Virginia voters. This year, they constituted 16 percent.

A majority of voters in Tuesday’s elections named the economy as their No. 1 concern. The problem for Democrats is that they have now controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress long enough that voters may be starting to hold them responsible for the nation’s economic state.

A recent Gallup tracking poll found only 11 percent of Americans rating the economy as either excellent or good. Only 26 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the way things are going in the country.

“Unless the economy turns around dramatically over the next year, the Democrats [in 2010 midterms] are likely to face an electorate that is very unhappy with the course of the nation and the state of the economy,” according to a Gallup analysis of its polling data.

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See also:

Election results hearten Republicans, deal blow to Obama

Maine vote a devastating blow to gay marriage

Mayoral election results: incumbents squeak by

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