By Robert A. Vella

Yesterday’s off-year elections in the U.S. produced the usual mixed results for Democrats and Republicans across the nation.  Voter turnout was generally low as expected.  For example, about 25% of registered voters cast ballots in Washington state and voter turnout has been estimated as “very low” in some northern California cities.  Despite this worrisome apathy towards American democracy, these elections did reveal the current political mood of the public and the news isn’t particularly good for the Tea Party.  Here’s a roundup of the biggest stories:

Republican Governor Chris Christie won reelection in New Jersey by a whopping 22 points over an opponent who was curiously abandoned by the Democratic Party.  Christie voters spread across traditional partisan lines forming a broad coalition he will cite as the basis for a likely presidential run in 2016.  Earlier this year, Christie defeated the Tea Party conservative Seth Grossman for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

In Virginia, unpopular Democratic Party insider Terry McAuliffe was elected governor by 3 points over the Tea Party-backed social conservative Ken Cuccinelli.  However, the margin of victory was far less than had been predicted by political pundits.  Cuccinelli, the state’s current Attorney General, had angered many female voters with his radical opposition to abortion, contraception, and other women’s health issues.  These positions also angered the GOP establishment who provided little support for his campaign.  Reportedly, Chris Christie turned down a request to come to Cuccinelli’s aid when polling had shown the Virginia AG losing badly in public opinion (per last night’s election coverage on MSNBC).  Democrats also handily won the Lieutenant Governor race against the even more socially radical E.W. Jackson, and look to be in a dead-heat recount for the state’s Attorney General position.

The Tea Party went 0 for 3 when its candidate for Alabama’s 1st congressional district – Dean Young – lost in a runoff election to GOP establishment candidate Bradley Byrne.  This result in the deep-red South is significantly more problematic for the Tea Party than either of its losses in blue-state New Jersey or purple-state Virginia.  The political fallout from last month’s government shutdown appears to be exacting a heavy price on right-wing ideologues.

The election results in Colorado are quite interesting.  A tax increase known as Amendment 66, that would have provided additional funding for public education and private charter schools, was soundly rejected while a new tax on the sale of marijuana was convincingly approved.  And, 6 out of 11 northern rural counties voted not to secede from the state.

From:  Election day 2013: Fossil fuels take hits from Virginia to Washington State

From Virginia to Colorado to Washington, voters on election day 2013 threw their weight behind politicians and policies that limited the use of coal, oil, or natural gas. Bans on fracking, coal exports, and tar sands were on the ballot in a handful of states, and in most cases, the election day 2013 results did not favor fossil fuels.

From:  Wash. state measure on labeling GMO foods failing

SEATTLE — A Washington state ballot measure requiring mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods is failing in early returns.

The campaign over Initiative 522 has been one of the costliest initiative fights in state history, drawing millions of dollars from out of state.

The measure was failing 45 percent to 55 percent with more than 980,000 ballots counted Tuesday night.

“We’re delighted with the vote tonight,” said Dana Bieber, a spokeswoman for the No on 522 campaign. Voters “gave a clear message. The more they looked at the initiative the less they liked it.”

But labeling supporters weren’t conceding.

“This is far from over and we have several days of vote counting ahead,” said Delana Jones, campaign manager for the Yes on 522 campaign, noting that thousands of ballots in liberal-leaning King County had not yet been counted. “I’m cautiously optimistic.”

From:  De Blasio wins New York mayoral race as Democrat routs Lhota

NEW YORK — Bill de Blasio, who built his underdog campaign for New York mayor on promises to restrain police stop-and-frisk tactics and reduce income inequality, won in a landslide, putting a Democrat in charge of City Hall for the first time in 20 years.

De Blasio, 52, New York’s elected public advocate, beat Joseph Lhota, R, a deputy to former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, according to the Associated Press, which called the race based on unofficial returns. De Blasio led Lhota 73 percent to 24 percent with 63 percent of the precincts reporting.