Will the GOP be ready?Nov 18, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 10 • By JAY COST
The governorship of Virginia has been held by some of the most eminent men in American history: Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Edmund Randolph, Henry Lee, James Monroe. And now, Terry McAuliffe will sit in their chair. Depressing? Perhaps, but it is worth remembering that for about half a century, the political machine of Harry Byrd selected Virginia governors based upon their loyalty to “the Organization.” If Virginia has seen better leaders than the Democratic apparatchik who served as chief fundraiser during the scandal-plagued Bill Clinton years, it should come as some comfort to denizens of the Old Dominion that it has (probably) also seen worse.
What to make of the longer-term implications of the 2013 off-off-year elections, both in Virginia and in New Jersey, where Chris Christie cruised to an overwhelming victory? It is hard to judge what they mean for 2014 and beyond, although many pundits will try. These are but 2 states out of 50, and, moreover, the electorates that emerged last week will probably not be seen again. Such is the nature of low-turnout affairs a year before a midterm and three years before a presidential election. Still, there are some conclusions to draw about the broader national picture, especially looking at the two states together.
Let’s start with Virginia. Terry McAuliffe has all the sleaziness of Bill Clinton with none of the Southern charm or policy wonkery. Yet he managed to win a comfortable, if underwhelming, victory in a state that until recently had been solidly in the Republican column. The manner in which he accomplished this feat is what should interest conservatives, for he mimicked the old Clinton approach, which will surely be Hillary Clinton’s tack in 2016.
McAuliffe did exactly what his master did in 1996. First, he started with a solid base of support from those in the lower socioeconomic strata of society, in particular poor African Americans. According to the exit polls, he won 65 percent of those who make less than $30,000 a year, and 90 percent of African Americans. To this substantial group—about half his total voting coalition—he added people at the high end of the socioeconomic strata. He won 57 percent of people with a postgraduate degree and 55 percent of people who make more than $200,000 a year. In Virginia, a state with a tight relationship to the federal government, these are people with great faith in the capacity of technocratic experts to manage society. Add their gentry liberalism (support for environmentalism, abortion rights, gay marriage, etc.), and they were easy McAuliffe targets.
But this is not enough in Virginia, especially the Virginia of 2013, a state whose electorate last week was not terribly disposed to the party in power. President Obama’s job approval in the exit polls was a weak 46 percent, identical to support for Obamacare. On top of that, the voters roughly split on who deserved blame for the government shutdown, with just a slight plurality pointing the finger at the Republicans. So how did McAuliffe get this indisposed electorate to back him?
That is where his comfort level with the upper echelon of society comes into play. McAuliffe followed a tired-but-true playbook: In his public appearances, he played the role of crusading populist, looking out for the people and not the powerful; behind the scenes, he massively outraised his opponent by currying favor with the powerful interests he publicly disclaimed. What to do with all that cash? With an electorate that is growing tired of big government, it is not enough for a Democrat as liberal as McAuliffe to paint a positive vision of the future. Instead, he had to scare the bejesus out of people, warning them in ad after ad that his Republican opponent, Ken Cuccinelli, is an extreme crypto-Puritan who would set the Old Dominion back a century or more.
It is in this way that McAuliffe pulled in just enough anti-Obama voters to win. While a majority of Virginia voters disapproved of the president, McAuliffe pulled in 11 percent of them. Of voters who opposed Obamacare, McAuliffe won 11 percent. This is not much by any stretch of the imagination, but elections are always fought at the margins—and, importantly, McAuliffe managed to win more Obama opponents than Cuccinelli won Obama supporters. In his quest, he was assisted enormously by a divided Republican party, including a donor class that never really gave Cuccinelli a second look. The state’s attorney general, of course, failed to help his own cause by running an inept campaign. Ditto the party activists who saddled Cuccinelli with a lieutenant governor candidate, E. W. Jackson, whose controversial comments put him too far outside the mainstream.
Hosted by Michael Graham.5:15 PM, Nov 6, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with executive editor Fred Barnes recapping the 2013 elections in Virginia, New Jersey, New York and across the country.
12:01 AM, Nov 6, 2013 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
This year, Virginia Republicans were divided and had an easily caricatured candidate at the top of the ticket who ran a defensive campaign and was massively outspent ... and the state still broke basically 50-50. Next year, incumbent Democratic senator Mark Warner will be on the ballot.
9:45 PM, Nov 5, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Terry McAuliffe will win his bid for governor Virginia, both Fox News and NBC News are projecting. McAuliffe, a Democrat, will defeat his Republican opponent, attorney general Ken Cuccinelli.
With 91 percent of precincts reporting, McAuliffe holds a small lead, 46.8 percent to Cuccinelli's 46.5 percent.
Neither Obama nor Biden mentioned Obamacare in their speeches.2:37 PM, Nov 4, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Ken Cuccinelli may have finally found a winning message in his bid for governor of Virginia, and not a moment too soon. With just a day before Virginians head to the polls, Cuccinelli spent Monday morning targeting his Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe and other national Democrats for their support for Obamacare.
8:38 AM, Nov 4, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A final poll from Quinnipiac on Tuesday's gubernatorial race in Virginia shows Democrat Terry McAuliffe with a six-point lead over Republican rival Ken Cuccinelli. Forty-six percent of likely Virginia voters say they will vote for McAuliffe, according to the poll, while 40 percent say they'll vote for Cuccinelli. Eight percent say they will vote for the Libertarian party candidate, Robert Sarvis. Here's more from Quinnipiac:
6:48 AM, Nov 4, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama campaigned yesterday in Virginia for Democrat Terry McAuliffe, whose election in the governor's race is Tuesday. Obama praised McAuliffe's wife, their "unbelievable children," and McAuliffe himself.
12:40 PM, Nov 3, 2013 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Could the focus on Obamacare in the last couple of weeks before Tuesday's Virginia gubernatorial election enable the Republican nominee, Ken Cuccinelli, to come from behind in the homestretch? He's run a pretty awful campaign so far, and has been trailing badly for months, but ...
3:03 PM, Nov 1, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Is Ken Cuccinelli closing in on Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia governor's race? The latest poll from Emerson College shows McAuliffe, the Democrat, with 42 percent support and Cuccinelli, the Republican, with 40 percent. Libertarian Robert Sarvis has 13 percent in the poll of 874 likely voters.
10:42 AM, Oct 30, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A new poll of the Virginia's gubernatorial election hints that the race may be tightening between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli. According to Quinnipiac's survey of 1,182 likely voters, 45 percent say they will vote for McAuliffe and 41 percent say they will vote for Cuccinelli. Nine percent say they will vote for Libertarian party candidate Robert Sarvis.
8:33 AM, Oct 29, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
With a week to go before election day, Virginia voters favor Democrat Terry McAuliffe for governor over Republican Ken Cuccinelli by more than 10 points, according to a new poll from the Washington Post. The survey found that 51 percent of likely voters support McAuliffe and just 39 percent support Cuccinelli. In addition, Libertarian party candidate Robert Sarvis pulls in 8 percent support.
1:58 PM, Oct 28, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
What's wrong with Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia's Republican candidate for governor? He's losing by nearly 10 percentage points, according to Real Clear Politics, to Terry McAuliffe, the flawed Democrat. The conventional wisdom is that Cuccinelli is too conservative on social issues, and the McAuliffe campaign has run ads painting the Republican as an extremist on abortion, gay rights, and contraception.
12:52 PM, Oct 22, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Terry McAuliffe has a 17-point lead over Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia governor's race, according to a new poll from Rasmussen. McAuliffe, the Democrat, enjoys his largest lead yet in the race with 50 percent of the vote, while Republican Cuccinelli has 33 percent. The Libertarian candidate, Robert Sarvis, has eight percent support.
9:01 AM, Oct 18, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
With just weeks left in the 2013 gubernatorial race in Virginia, Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli has a new TV ad that questions the seriousness of his Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe. "What's Terry McAuliffe offering Virginia families?" the voiceover asks. "False, misleading attacks; massive, wasteful spending; and $1,700 dollars in higher taxes every year."
"Terry McAuliffe," the voiceover continues. "Deeply unserious." Watch below:
12:04 PM, Sep 27, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
CNN host Stephanie Cutter, who worked on President Obama's reelection campaign, has sent a fundraising email on behalf of Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.
"Hey there," Cutter begins. "Another poll came out this week showing Terry McAuliffe with a marginal lead over Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia governor's race. Most people I know were thrilled. But I got nervous."