Reading the signs: Elections elsewhere may be a harbinger of change

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The results of Tuesday's elections in various states produced some interesting indicators, both of the public's political opinions at the moment and of the direction they may be heading as the 2014 congressional and 2016 presidential races approach.

Four particular contests drew the most attention.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a political professional strongly supported by the Clintons, won in the Virginia gubernatorial race over Tea Party-backed Republican Ken Cuccinelli, but by a narrower margin than anticipated, perhaps due to the bungled Obamacare startup.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a relative moderate, won a second term by a wider margin than expected, clearly teeing him up for his anticipated quest for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.

Bill de Blasio, a liberal, triumphed in New York City's Democratic primary in September, then swept to a big victory Tuesday, putting his party in the mayor's office for the first time in 20 years, following the Republican rule of Rudy Giuliani and afterward Michael Bloomberg. Mr. de Blasio heads a racially mixed family and has pledged to tackle New York's inequality between rich and poor.

The fourth key race was in Alabama, where a conservative Republican, Bradley Byrne, was challenged in a congressional primary by Tea Party-oriented Dean Young. Mr. Byrne won the right to face Democrat Burton LeFlore in December. Many congressional Republicans, who have been pressured to compromise on the budget, the debt limit and other issues, watched the race closely.

The day's winners, with respect to the future, were probably Bill and Hillary Clinton, who backed Mr. McAuliffe; Mr. Christie, the rising flag-bearer of moderate Republicans; liberal Democrats in New York City; and traditional Republicans in general.

Losers were President Barack Obama, who may be hurting fellow Democrats with the rocky startup of his landmark health care reform, and the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, which suffered the Cuccinelli and Young defeats.


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