According to State House News Service (subscription required), Gov. Deval Patrick was on the radio this morning saying there is "no comparison" between yesterday's New Jersey/Virginia gubernatorial elections (both won by Republicans) and his own re-election effort next year. "A year is a long time in politics," he added.
He's right, but the New Jersey result can't be comforting, especially if Patrick and advisers are nursing hopes of winning with less than a majority in a three-candidate race. In the closing weeks of the campaign, many analysts suggested that unpopular Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine could win with far less than 50 percent of the vote, thanks to independent candidate Chris Daggett pulling anti-Corzine votes away from Republican nominee Chris Christie.
In the end Daggett, who had polled as high as 20 percent, got only 5.8 percent of the vote, and Christie unseated Corzine, 48.8 percent to 44.5 percent. My hunch is that anti-Corzine independents and Republicans broke for Christie in the final days of the campaign, leaving Daggett with Democrats who couldn't bring themselves to vote for Corzine but would never vote for a Republican.
So I'm updating my prediction from July: Patrick needs to get very close to 50 percent next fall in order to be re-elected. Gambling that the Republican nominee (presumably Charlie Baker) and independent Tim Cahill will split the anti-incumbent vote and allow Patrick to glide in with, say, 44.5 percent, would be a poor strategy for the governor's campaign.
Cross-posted at CW Unbound.