The 2013 election is over, the dust has (for the most part) settled – and now that the majority of results are in, the analyzing of the voter trends begins. Both parties are hoping to use this year's election results to figure out what they need to tweak in the upcoming 2014 and 2016 campaigns when it comes to voter outreach. Already, just by looking at some key races, five clear messages are apparent:
1. Women can decide elections.
Heading into the final days of the Virginia governor's race, the gender gap between Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe was massive, resulting in a seven-point margin in favor of McAuliffe. In the end, the results were much, much closer, but McAuliffe's slim victory is believed to be mostly a result of that continuing gap between the sexes.
2. But women voters aren't a homogenous block.
So how did Virginia's 25-point gender gap turn into a nine-point one? According to MSNBC, within the women's vote was another gap, this one racial and social. White women voted 54-38 in favor of Cuccinelli, and with married women he was up by 11 points. What pushed McAuliffe to victory was the fact that women of color and unmarried women turned out in numbers unheard-of for an off-year election, and at the same rate as they did for the presidential race in 2012.
3. The 2016 presidential face-off could very well be Chris Christie vs. Hillary Clinton.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie sailed to an easy reelection, beating his Democratic opponent by a solid 22 percent. The massive win did exactly what he had hoped – positioned him as a major frontrunner for the 2016 presidential election. In that respect, his Democratic opponent, State Senator Barbara Buono, may have provided an assist in her fiery concession speech, where she angrily accused state Democratic leaders of working with him.
Assuming that national Republicans are willing to overlook Christie's grudging acceptance of same-sex marriage in his state and he can make it through the religious right gauntlet to secure the GOP nomination, he's set himself up with a "bipartisan" reputation that could make him a tempting choice for moderates in both parties in 2016.
Meanwhile, the results in Virginia are going to make the Democratic Party think even more seriously about supporting a woman nominee for the White House. If that happens, it's hard to imagine anyone other than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton winning that spot. A Christie-Clinton showdown could bring more voters to the polls than any other matchup imaginable.
4. Voters are tired of the Tea Party agenda.
A vote for Cuccinelli was a vote for opposing the Affordable Care Act, according to the final Virginia GOP ground game. Cuccinelli lost. Meanwhile, two proposals for upping the minimum wage won with voters in SeaTac, Washington and the entire state of New Jersey. A Tea Party candidate in Alabama, backed by Alabama Chief Justice Roy "10 Commandments" Moore lost out to a pro-business pick favored by the non-religious right arm of the state GOP. Taken all together, the Republican Party's biggest goal will be bringing its two factions back into line and figuring out how to work together if they want to win statewide races in 2014.
5. This is your state, and you are stuck with it.
Ever since the 2012 election results came in, there has been a groundswell of unhappy Americans declaring it time to secede from their home state. "51st state" advocates in Colorado actually tried to make that a reality, and let 11 counties vote on whether to begin a process to secede from the state and form a separate entity – "North Colorado." As results were tabulated, a majority of the counties said no.