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Off to the races: Tea Party took a hit

USA Today: “The failure of Tea Party-backed candidates in Tuesday's election shows that Democrats have been successful in making the Tea Party label a negative for Republicans, even if it isn't always clear what being a Tea Party candidate means. Exit polls in Virginia, where Republican Ken Cucinelli lost to Democrat Terry McAuliffe, show 42% of voters had a negative opinion of the Tea Party movement. … Democrats touted those results in a conference call Wednesday.”

The Louisville Courier-Journal: “Sen. Rand Paul's handling of recent plagiarism charges adds doubts about his readiness for a presidential campaign, some observers said Wednesday.” Said Stu Rothenberg: "It raises questions about how he will handle being under the microscope.” Larry Sabato: “If (Paul) were at my school, he would have been expelled because of the honor code. It's a lot more serious than the 'Aqua Buddha.’”

“Republicans are looking at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's success with Hispanics as a sign that the party can win back a growing voting bloc that has turned away from them in recent elections,” USA Today writes.

But NBC Latino’s Suzanne Gamboa throws some cold water on that: “New Jersey’s Latino population is not a mirror of the Hispanic population at large. What plays in Jersey, may not play in New Mexico, even if that state’s governor was at Christie’s side on the final day of his campaign. The state’s largest Latino group is Puerto Rican, about 30 percent of the Latino population, according to Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project. Among eligible Latino voters, four-in-ten are Puerto Rican, 13 percent are of Dominican origin, about 9 percent are of Cuban descent and five percent are of Mexican origin. Another 31 percent are of other Hispanic origin.

Nationally, 59 percent of eligible Latino voters are of Mexican origin, 14 percent are Puerto Rican, 5 percent are Cuban, 3 percent are Dominican and 16 percent are of other Hispanic origin, according to Pew.

“There are many issues that resonate throughout the Latino community, but not all have the same ranking of importance when it comes time to vote. ‘There’s plenty of research that shows Puerto Rican Hispanics are much less supportive of liberalized immigration reform. It’s not an issue that affects them in the same personal way as Mexican-origin Hispanics,’ said Ali Adam Valenzuela, a political scientist at Princeton University. In addition, Election Day exit polling was done only in English, meaning Hispanics who were reached were likely to be more ‘assimilated,’ educated and higher income, Valenzuela said.”

GEORGIAAtlanta Journal Constitution: "Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter will challenge Gov. Nathan Deal next year in a move that catapults the gubernatorial contest into the national spotlight and tests whether Georgia’s changing demographics can loosen the Republican Party’s 12-year grip on the state’s highest office. Carter’s another step along the trail forged by his famous grandfather Jimmy Carter, who was elected to the state Senate and then the Governor’s Mansion before winning the presidency."

MONTANABillings Gazette: "Former Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger announced Tuesday night that he’s running for Montana’s open U.S. Senate seat next year, becoming the third Democrat to get in the race. Bohlinger, 77,....joins current Lt. Gov. John Walsh and Wilsall rancher Dirk Adams as Democrats in the race to succeed U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who is retiring next year."

NEW JERSEYNBC's Jessica Taylor: "Rep. Jon Runyan (R-N.J.) announced he wouldn’t seek a third term in Congress, giving Democrats a prime pickup opportunity in 2014 in district that President Obama won last year."

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Runyan cited a desire to spend more time with his children...But three Republican sources said the congressman was also exasperated by the gridlock that has come to define Washington. One party leader pointed specifically to clashes between pragmatic Republicans and the unyielding tea party wing that holds sway in the House."

VIRGINIADaily Rundown's Jessica Taylor: "A loss by Ken Cuccinelli was supposed to have been a wake-up call to the tea party that deeply conservative candidates couldn’t win in swing states like Virginia. Instead, the GOP nominee’s near-miss in Tuesday’s race for governor has only deepened the party’s ideological divide....when the results came in, and the margin was only three points, many were left wondering whether a win had been within reach. They blamed the GOP cavalry for failing to ride in, believing that Cuccinelli’s framing of the race as a referendum against Obamacare had been a winning message."

Washington Post: "Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe’s unexpectedly slim victory in Virginia set off an explosion of recriminations among Republicans on Wednesday, and rather than settling the battle between the GOP’s tea party and business factions, the election appears to have deepened the internal divide. If lessons emerged from Tuesday’s vote, they were almost instantly lost in the volley of finger-pointing that began even before the polls closed. "

Politico: "Terry McAuliffe’s gubernatorial campaign was never built for a landslide victory. Not that the legendary Democratic operative-turned-candidate would have objected to a bigger win – but McAuliffe’s 2.5-point, 55,000-vote edge over Republican Ken Cuccinelli was the narrow margin his team planned for starting in early 2013, when McAuliffe’s advisers mapped out a strategy for winning in the difficult environment of an off-year Virginia election."

Washington Post: "Virginians may be in for a long wait, possibly into December, to learn who will become their next attorney general, the official who serves as the commonwealth’s top lawyer in such a prominent office that it has become a springboard to the governor’s mansion."