I’m still recovering from the heart palpitations and adrenaline rush from waiting out the Virginia election results tonight and wanted to capture my thoughts while they are still fresh.
Before commenting, let me remind some of you of my background. I was born, raised and educated in Virginia. I lived there until about 25 years ago. Also, about 25 years ago- and please sit down now- I worked as paid campaign staff for Republican candidates. That was prior to my “road to Damascus” moment when I realized I really wasn’t a Republican. That was also prior to the GOP going completely crazy….There once were socially liberal Republicans.
Like a lot of people, I became a Democrat by choice and after much thought. That’s the difference between the GOP and the Dems. Democrats think. Sometimes too much…
The Virginia gubernatorial election today should not have been this close. It was a nail bitter. Let me give you my perspective as to why:
- Both Candidates had very high negative ratings in polling. No one loved Terry McAuliffe, but a lot of people hated Ken Cuccinnelli more. This was not a scenario to drive Democratic turnout. People are much more likely to show up to vote for someone than against someone. I’m not sure if McAuliffe could have defeated any other Republican as he was not beloved by anyone. Again, anti-Cuccinnelli hatred was the motivating factor to Democrats and hate doesn’t really drive Dems like it does Republicans.
- The polls, for the last few weeks, were showing a blowout. People thought they didn’t need to make the effort to go vote against Cuccinnelli as it looked safe that McAuliffe would win.
- Nothing makes the Tea Party madder and motivates them more than polls showing their candidate will lose.
- Virginia does not have any early voting. It takes an extra effort for working people and poor people to go to the polls. Thinking McAuliffe was a safe win, they didn’t make that extra effort.
- The Religious Wrong and old white people will vote for their candidates, like Cuccinnelli, come hell or high water. I wish we could find a way to instill that drive in Democratic voters.
- I don’t know to what extent Voter ID laws suppressed Democratic turnout, but I’m sure it did. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to suppress Democratic turnout.
- Thank god for Northern Virginia and the Government shutdown. That motivated people in Northern Virginia, who are heavily Democratic to turn out.
As I said, this should not have been this close, but it was. It wasn’t close enough to effectively end Ken Cuccinnelli’s political career or kill the Tea Party. Those are the real negative repercussions. This battle will continue.
The good news is that the absolutely bat shit crazy GOP Lt Governor candidate went down in flames. This gives us a well positioned Democrat to run for Governor in Virginia in 4 years when, due to Virginia law which prevents Governors from seeking re-election, McAuliffe won’t be eligible to run. The other bit of good news is that McAuliffe ran on very left-of-center positions and still won. Even though he was personally unpopular. That proves that Progressive positions are not a death sentence even in a state still as conservative as Virginia.
It looks like the Attorney General’s race in Virginia is still too close to call. Right now, Democrat Mark Herring is down by fewer than 200 votes. That total has been changing constantly and the winner flipping back and forth. The results of this race will prove interesting down the road. This office is usually a stepping stone to future gubernatorial candidates. The Republican candidate, Mark Obenshain, is the son of conservative Republican Richard “Dick” Obenshain who was killed in a plane crash while running for the U.S. Senate seat ultimately won my John Warner in 1978. He has a legacy and could be a real threat as a future gubernatorial candidate- and he is very Conservative but not as Conservative as Cuccinnelli and defeated Lt Governor candidate E.W Jackson. Since both Cuccinnelli and Jackson are crazy Tea Party Conservatives, this does not mean much in comparison. The GOP had all their hope on Obenshain as even they had written off Cuccinnelli and Jackson.
One other thought. E.W. Jackson was not only crazy, he was Black. Ralph Northam beat him by 10 points in the Lt Governor’s race, by far the largest spread of the night. To me, this proves the Tea Party will support any right-wing lunatic- as long as he is white….