What the 2013 elections told us

The polls had barely closed before the knives were out among Republicans on what the off year elections in 2013 meant nationally, as attention swiftly turned to Congressional mid-terms in 2014 and the race for the White House in 2016.

WHO WON ELECTION NIGHT?

The obvious "winner" in the 2013 elections was Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, as the Republican easily won a second term, rolling up big numbers in a state that went for Barack Obama by 17 points just a year ago.

Exit polls showed Christie winning 76% of independent voters - in a very Blue state. It certainly gives him a boost if Christie wants to head out to Iowa and New Hampshire with dreams of 2016.

The idea of Christie being a candidate probably drives many more conservative Republicans crazy, especially south of the Mason-Dixon line. But ask yourself - what other Republican could win a big Blue state right now with over 60% of the vote?

GOP ESTABLISHMENT CHALKS UP A WIN

Down in the Mobile, Alabama area, Republicans voted in a GOP runoff to fill a seat in the U.S. House = a race that became a proxy battle between the GOP establishment and insurgent Tea Party forces.

The Chamber of Commerce made clear it wanted Bradley Byrne to win, pouring in a big chunk of money to help defeat Dean Young, a conservative Republican and local Tea Party favorite.

The polls were close, but strong support in Mobile County pushed Byrne to a 52-48% victory, and a spot in a December 17 general election against a little-known Democrat.

This win just might make GOP bigwigs and business interests more likely to open their wallets and get involved in Congressional races, especially if they think there's a candidate that's "too Tea Party" in the race.

WHO LOST VIRGINIA?

This question won't get answered for a while on the Republican side, as the finger pointing is sure to increase after the hangovers wear off in GOP circles.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli had been given up for dead by many national Republicans, but somehow he stormed back and led for much of the night before losing to Terry McAuliffe.

The close result was even more agonizing for the GOP, because McAuliffe was seen as a very weak candidate, who should have been easily dispatched by the Republicans.

Was Cuccinelli too controversial? Did he talk too much about social issues that don't play well in the DC suburbs?

Did the government shutdown ruin things for the Republicans both outside DC and down in the Norfolk area, home to so many military and government jobs?

It will certainly spur some good finger pointing in the days ahead.