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Election Day Scorecard

With eight states (California, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Washington and Virginia) holding statewide elections today, it's hard to decide what matters when it comes to evaluating which party emerges as the overall victor.  The Fix is here to help.

Here's a list of the five most important contests today (in order) and why they matter:

1) Virginia Governor: The battle between Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine (D) and former state Attorney General Jerry Kilgore (R) has national implications for both the 2006 midterm elections and the 2008 presidential race.  If Kaine wins, national Democrats will immediately spin it as empirical evidence of an erosion of support for President Bush and the Republican party -- given that the president carried the Old Dominion by eight points last November. If Kilgore emerges triumphant, Republicans may point to it as the start of a Bush resurgence, crediting the win to the president's last-minute campaign appearance in Richmond on Monday.

As for 2008, expect outgoing Gov. Mark Warner (D) to receive a major boost for his national ambitions should Kaine win.  Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) would get less of a bump if Kilgore emerges victorious.  And it may not matter much either way, since many political insiders already see Allen as an early favorite for the GOP nomination in 2008.

2) California Special Election: Keep your eyes on the four ballot propositions (74, 75, 76, 77) being backed by Gov. Arnold SchwarzeneggerEach appears to be on shaky ground, and if they are  rejected by voters it may send a dire signal about Schwarzenegger's reelection chances next year. Schwarzenegger raised nearly $50 million (including more than $7 million of his own money) to pass these initiatives; opponents ranging from the state's teachers union to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have raked in double that amount.

3) New Jersey Governor: Of the 50 governorships in the country, none is more powerful than the Garden State's.  The governor of New Jersey is charged with appointing all of the statewide officials, a power that may explain the fact that the state has had four different governors (including Acting Gov. Richard Codey twice) since Christine Todd Whitman resigned the job in 2001 to take over as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Sen. Jon Corzine (D) seems likely to win, although businessman Doug Forrester (R) has put up a livelier-than-expected fight.  A Corzine win means that he will be charged with appointing a successor to fill the year remaining on his Senate term -- a slot that four members of the state's House delegation have been angling for since Corzine formally announced his gubernatorial candidacy. A Corzine win has 2008 implications as well, as fans and foes alike say the senator may be hoping to parlay the governorship into a launching pad for a presidential run.

4) Ohio Redistricting Ballot Initiative: If Ohio voters pass State Issue 4, it would have an impact that could stretch through 2010 and beyond. The ballot proposal would take the drawing of legislative and congressional districts away from the state legislature and put it in the hands of an independent board. As importantly, it would force the lines to be redrawn at the start of 2007, which could pave the way for significant Democratic gains in 2008.  Republicans currently hold 12 of the state's 18 House seats -- a lopsided majority given that Bush only won the state by 150,000 votes (out of more than 5.5 million cast) in 2004. The initiative is part of a package of reform measures being pushed by a coalition of liberal groups; it is the only one (of four) trailing in the polls ahead of Election Day.

5) New York City Mayor: Incumbent Michael Bloomberg's (R) huge lead over former Bronx Borough president Fernando Ferrer (D) ensures 16 years of Republican governance in the largest city in America.  Bloomberg's huge lead in polls is due in large part to the $80 million of his own money he has spent on his reelection; he dropped $70 million on the first race in 2001. In a year where bright spots for Republicans are few and far between, Bloomberg will likely give GOPers something to smile about.

Stay tuned Tuesday evening as The Fix follows the returns.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 8, 2005; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Fix Notes  
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