What Will Tonight Tell Us?

First Read anticipates the post-election spin:

[T]he biggest story of all … will likely be the contrast between Virginia (where Cuccinelli’s conservatism is on display) and New Jersey (where Christie’s electability is the dominant message). Remember, one man —Cuccinelli — spoke at this year’s CPAC conference, NEGATIVE# josephm 210524--SLUG-ME-VA-AG-1-DATE--11/03/2009--LOCAwhile another man — Christie — wasn’t invited. As CPAC’s chief organizer said of Christie’s snub, “This year, for better or for worse, we felt like, ah, like he didn’t deserve to be on the all-star selection.” Bottom line: Tonight is shaping up to be a rough night for the Tea Party.

The one exception, however, could be in Alabama, and that could be a BIG exception for folks like Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Pat Roberts (R-KS), who are facing primary challenges in red states. Chris Christie running on an electability message in blue New Jersey is one thing; Dean Young winning in Alabama on a vow to be one of the most conservative members of Congress is another thing — which will tell us a lot more where the GOP currently stands. Then again, if Byrne wins, that would be quite a feather in the GOP establishment’s cap and probably would make those southern establishment Republicans feel a bit better about 2014.

But we know already what tonight will tell us: the GOP is fracturing deeply, the internal contradictions of the Southern Strategy have begun to emerge as insurmountable, and the party is in danger of becoming a protest vote by seniors alarmed at the new multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi-faith America being born – and with little credibility in actual governance. Christie is their hope – but the way he divides his party is also their predicament.

(Photo of Cuccinelli by Marvin Johnson/Getty.)