What Christie And McAuliffe Mean For 2016

It may be three years away, but the 2016 presidential election cast a long shadow over the races for governor in New Jersey and Virginia. Now the results are in, it begs the question: What does the re-election of a Republican governor in true blue New Jersey and the election of a high-profile Hillary Clinton ally in deep purple Virginia tell us about the next presidential contest?

On Tuesday night, the popular and larger-than-life Republican Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, trounced a little-known middle-ground Democratic state senator by winning over large swathes of women and minority voters who are typically wary of today's GOP, the party that largely caters to old white males.

Two hundred miles southwest in Virginia, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a close ally of Hillary and Bill Clinton, eked out a victory over Tea Party favorite Ken Cuccinelli, largely by running up the score with single women.

It may be three years away, but the 2016 presidential election cast a long shadow over the races for governor in New Jersey and Virginia. Now the results are in, it begs the question: What does the re-election of a Republican governor in true blue New Jersey and the election of a high-profile Hillary Clinton ally in deep purple Virginia tell us about the next presidential contest?

Among the Republican establishment, Christie's message was heard loud and clear. "It shows the Republicans that if you can expand the tent of voters, you can go to great places," said Republican strategist Ford O'Connell. Those margins are "like Neil Armstrong walking on the moon if you're a Republican."

That message, O'Connell said, was only made stronger by what happened in Virginia, where Cuccinelli, the Tea Party candidate, narrowly lost to former Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe in a race that pitted an ultraconservative Republican against a weak, widely distrusted Democrat. "What it shows you is if you want to win, regardless of the circumstances, you're going to have to get beyond the base," O'Connell said.

Read more from Pema Levy at Newsweek

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