WASHINGTON — As partisanship renders Washington largely dysfunctional, voters in two states signaled this week that they want consensus-building even when there's divided government.
Even so, heading into a 2014 midterm election year, Tuesday's results in New Jersey and Virginia carry plenty of warning signs for both parties that despite the voter angst, hyper-partisanship still is likely to rule.
In reliably Democratic New Jersey, Republican Gov. Chris Christie easily won a second term with support from voters who aligned with President Barack Obama last November. Those same voters kept Democrats in charge of the New Jersey Legislature.
In Virginia, longtime Democratic Party power broker Terry McAuliffe defeated Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli by a narrow margin for governor, but Republicans retained control of the House of Delegates. The state Senate remains up for grabs in a coming special election.
McAuliffe and Christie each embraced the notion of bipartisanship in their victory. But exit polls and immediate reactions from national party players — including tea party activists — suggest that Republicans and Democrats are likely to remain entrenched in partisan positions.
Virginia exit polls found that 42 percent of voters oppose the tea party movement, while just 28 percent said they support it. But on the question of blame for the shutdown, the difference was essentially the same as McAuliffe's margin of victory: 48 percent blamed Republicans in Congress, with 88 percent of those people voting for McAuliffe; 45 percent blamed Obama, with 87 percent of them opting for Cuccinelli.