Steele, Kaine both say that independents are in their corner after Tuesday vote

Party leaders quibbled Sunday morning over the meaning of Tuesday's elections, with Democrats pointing to Congressional victories in New York and California and Republicans seizing on gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey.

RNC Chairman Michael Steele said big GOP victories in governor's races suggested centrist voters were flocking to his party.

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"Independents came to Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell because they had something to say," Steele said on ABC's "This Week."

Gov. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), the DNC chairman, argued that governor's races turn on state and local issues, adding that independent voters still like President Barack Obama and agree with Democrats on healthcare reform.

"It's not a swing away from the president," he said. "The president is popular with independents nationally."

Most disputed was the meaning of the Democratic victory in NY-23, where a Democrat barely defeated a conservative third-party candidate after a moderate GOPer dropped out.

"Congressional elections reflect more what's going on in Washington, and in the one big one...Democrats won a seat they haven't held in 100 years," Gov. Ed Rendell (D-Pa.) said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Republicans repeatedly emphasized this morning that an undemocratic primary process in the district -- 11 county party chairman selected the nominee -- had fractured the Republican base.

"With a better, cleaner process there....you'll get the kind of result that will sustain us in that seat," Steele said.

Both Steele and Republican Governors Association chairman Haley Barbour (R-Miss.) said the GOP was headed for a big victory in 2010.


Officials from both parties acknowledged that whoever better addresses economic concerns will come out ahead next year.

Rendell praised the stimulus package for creating jobs but urged the president to focus on infrastructure and transportation spending.

Asked to grade Obama on the economy, Rendell said, "I would give him a solid B."

Barbour, on "Meet the Press," said the bailout package had fueled a recovery on Wall Street that hasn't translated to jobs for middle-class Americans.

"Wall Street is doing great and there's never been a bigger disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street."

Barbour said the GOP will benefit from its opposition to Democrats' healthcare reform, with Steele confidently predicting his party will take back the House.

"Call [John] Boehner 'Speaker Boehner,' now, because it's going to happen," Steele quipped.