As noted previously, the Times' November 5 "Political Points" podcast recited a full 30-second excerpt from Gail Collins' Wednesday column blaming not Obama, but bad Democratic candidates, for the party's huge losses in governors' races in Virginia and New Jersey.
The paper's chief political reporter Adam Nagourney agreed that New Jersey and Virginia weren't necessarily predictive. Four minutes in, Adam Nagourney emulated Collins by also throwing the two losing Democrats under the bus, while repeatedly warning people not to overstate the results:
Remember that we're talking about here are two states, not a lot of voters, one congressional district in upstate New York. Micro-wise, one thing we do want to pay attention to here is, and again, don't overstate this - independent voters who backed President Obama in Virginia and New Jersey last time went to the Republican gubernatorial candidates this time. Now, does that mean that they didn't, that they'll vote for, you know, whoever votes against Obama in 2012, or for Democrats, or Republicans congressional, for Republicans next year? No. I don't think so.
Second thing is, obviously the sort of big coalition that President Obama put together last year - first-time voters, African-American voters, young voters - I don't think showed up in either of those states. But you know what? Is that really surprising, that they didn't show up to vote for Creigh Deeds or Jon Corzine? So, my only point - with all due respect to Creigh Deeds and Jon Corzine - my only point is let's be careful about over-interpreting this, in any way.
Nagourney certainly didn't show much hesitation about over-interpreting a special congressional election in favor of Democrats in an August 2006 story, an election actually won by Republican Brian Bilbray, albeit in a race closer than anticipated. Nagourney's front-page story hailed the Republican win as a resounding victory...for the Democrats: "Narrow Victory by G.O.P. Signals Fall Problems."