Maggie Haberman and Alex Jones

Politico’s Maggie Haberman says 2013 elections hold little ‘predictive value’

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Tuesday, November 19, 12 p.m. | Taubman 275

November 19, 2013 – Reflecting on the 2013 elections and what they might mean for 2014 and 2016, Maggie Haberman, senior political reporter for Politico, shared with the Shorenstein Center what she saw as the three key outcomes that might shed light on future political developments.

The three elections she pointed to were Bill de Blasio in the New York mayoral race, and the gubernatorial races of Terry McAuliffe in Virginia and Chris Christie in New Jersey. The conventional wisdom that has followed de Blasio’s election, Haberman said, is that his win “spells a more liberal tilt in the electorate at large, and certainly in politics in New York City.” However, she pointed out, the percentage of voters in this election was a small percentage of the electorate, and so the win “doesn’t speak about a larger theme in either 2014 or 2016.”

A narrative that emerged from McAuliffe’s win, Haberman said, is that “the hard-right candidate can’t win.” Yet she sees that instead of a Democratic win, the election showed how close the Republicans came to winning, and as a result, “instead of seeing a dispirited Tea Party, you’re seeing a more invigorated Tea Party and a dispirited Wall Street and a dispirited donor class.”

Chris Christie’s reelection, Haberman said, was more a result of unique circumstances than a sign of things to come. Even though he won by a large margin, she said, “the suggestion that there’s a larger lesson that can be learned or tried elsewhere in the Republican Party…is hard to see.” But one characteristic about Christie that stood out and might signal to 2016, Haberman observed, was his ability to engage with voters on the campaign trail. “If anything could be learned from that race that’s applicable going forward,” she said, “it’s that.”

Article and photo by Janell Sims, Shorenstein Center.