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   Reading the Tea Leaves in the 2005 Elections

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11/4/2005 8:00 pm

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Entered 11/7/2005, Updated 11/7/2005

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There are several different kinds of election cycles, each with a distinctive character. The big one, of course, is a presidential election year, in which the chief executive is elected, along with a third of the Senate and the entire House of Representatives. A midterm election, such as those in 2002 or 2006, gets quite a bit of attention, too. Although there's no presidential contest then, often the battles in the House and Senate (and in many cases those for governor) are a reaction to or a referendum of the policies of the man in the White House. The midterm election year of 1994, in which Republicans took control of Congress, is widely seen as a reaction to the presidential election year of 1992, when Bill Clinton won his first term. Then there is the kind of election cycle we are going through this year: far fewer contests nationally, much less at stake, and often much harder to make any kind of grand political pronouncements. Given the fact that all we are talking about are gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey, mayoral contests in a handful of major cities (led by New York and Detroit), and a bevy of ballot initiatives and referenda, it's hard to find any real "message" from the results. But sometimes this particular election cycle has something to say.


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