— President Obama, talking about the HealthCare.gov Web site during a speech Friday in New Orleans
28New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s dominant performance at the polls last week was the best showing by a Republican statewide in 28 years. Not since Tom Kean Sr.’s landslide gubernatorial win in 1985 has a Republican cruised to victory by such a wide margin. Consider that Christie eclipsed the 60 percent mark in a deep blue state where no Republican had topped 50 percent statewide since 1988. That’s quite a foundation to build on ahead of what many observers believe is a likely 2016 presidential bid.
72,000+The number of voters who turned out in Alabama’s 1st District GOP special-election runoff last week, in which business-backed Bradley Byrne defeated insurgent tea party candidate Dean Young. The September primary election attracted about 52,000 voters, a figure that some observers thought could shrink in the runoff. But thanks to robust get-out-the-vote efforts and a helping hand from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Byrne boosted turnout and won the first big electoral test since the government shutdown pitting the business wing of the GOP vs. the cast-iron conservative wing of the party.
41 percent Just 41 percent of Americans said they view President Obama in a positive light, according to a Pew Research Center poll released last week. That’s down from 55 percent in December after the president’s election win. Republicans took a public-opinion tumble after the government shutdown showdown, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the president’s image is struggling, too, as his administration faces heaping problems with the rollout of the federal health-care law.
Terry McAuliffe won the Virginia governor’s race. His victory over Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) was further proof that Republicans need to be more careful about running candidates who don’t appeal to the political middle. Despite McAuliffe’s narrower-than-expected win, a win is a win. And Cuccinelli has officially become a cautionary tale for a Republican Party that has seen too many candidates of his ilk lose otherwise very winnable races.
Chris Christie won the New Jersey governor’s race. Christie’s huge reelection win gave Republicans hope for reclaiming the White House in 2016. It became clear that, at least for now, Christie is the biggest name in the Republican Party, particularly given a series of new plagiarism allegations that dogged his frequent foe, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). As Paul and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) have seen their brands wane to varying degrees, Christie has emerged as the beneficiary. And given Christie is probably the most electable among them, that’s good for the GOP.
— Aaron Blake and Sean Sullivan