Has Terry McAuliffe Brilliantly Stolen the Governor’s Nomination of a Lifetime?

Has Terry McAuliffe Brilliantly Stolen the Governor’s Nomination of a Lifetime?

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( – promoted by lowkell)

by Paul Goldman

As Thomas Jefferson would say, the answer is “self-evident Dr. Watson.” Okay, Dr. Watson comes a century later, but Sherlock Holmes would have given the same answer to the question posed above: Has McAuliffe brilliantly won the GUV nomination of a lifetime?

My take: To quote Bob Dylan, it “doesn’t take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” By any political calculation, Terry MAC is a few months away from pulling off the biggest political coup since Paul Trible won the GOP Senate nomination in 1982. Back then, there were any number of GOP pols angling for the Senate nomination. But they feared being in a three way race with then incumbent independent Harry Byrd, Jr. Trible gambled that Byrd wouldn’t run.

When Byrd did indeed drop out, Trible had outfoxed everyone and cruised to the GOP nomination.

Now comes 2012 going on 2013.

The reason Terry has such an engaging smile is because as a businessman he knows the bottom line: the winner of the Democratic nomination might be as close to a sure winner as one can get in a fiercely contested gubernatorial contest.

Contrary to popular opinion, Terry’s emergence as the only candidate for the Democratic nomination defies history. When was the last time this happened in VA, indeed anywhere in the nation, for the guy who started out the favorite in GUV primary four years ago – only to get beat handily by an underfunded long shot – coming back to win the prize without any challenge?

Never. So let’s give Terry some credit for sensing what is now only becoming apparent: getting the right to go man-on-man against Attorney General Cuccinelli without having to fight for it is like winning the recent $550 million dollar Powerball Lottery because you bought the ONLY TICKET.

Call me slow to dance: But I am thinking Terry has outfoxed a lot of people in the Democratic Party.

Let me explain.

If you look at the 2009 GUV stats, one thing strikes me as key to 2013: Even though Republicans won the biggest statewide sweep in two-party Virginia history, the polls suggest roughly an equal number of Republicans as Democrats came to the polls on election day.

There is no reason at this point to assume this will be any different in 2013. Moreover, it is a fair statement that in 2009, Deeds’ reluctance to embrace President Obama surely held down Democratic turnout, as did his failed campaign turnout model. The point being: Given the 2012 presidential election results, another even split between Democrats and Republicans in November 2013 is surely reasonable to assume for prediction purposes.

Back in 2009, McDonnell got between 10-20 percent of the voters who had supported the President the year before. It is safe to assume Mr. Cuccinelli will do significantly worse.

Meaning: Whomever is the Democratic nominee – McAuliffe, you, me, the woman behind the tree – will get 95% of the Democratic vote. Will Cuccinelli get the same 95% of the GOP vote which McDonnell got in 2009?  He surely will not do any better.

Double Meaning: Assuming the same rough partisan split among the electorate in 2009 in terms of turnout and a 95-5% split among those party faithful in the partisan direction, the race is DEAD EVEN no matter who the Democrats nominate for governor – McAuliffe, Perriello, McEachin, Scott, Big Bird, Little Bird, whomever – among roughly 70% of the electorate NO MATTER HOW MUCH MONEY Cuccinelli can raise from conservative causes around the country, and NO MATTER HOW LITTLE MONEY the Democratic nominee might raise.

TRIPLE MEANING; More than ever before in Virginia gubernatorial history, the race will be decided by your less partisan, more middle-of-the-road, more female than male voter.

QUADRUPLE MEANING: In the modern history of Virginia politics, as the race for Governor begins, Mr. Cuccinelli is in the worst shape of any presumptive GOP nominee among this part of the electorate.

Holton, Godwin, Dalton, Coleman, Coleman, Allen, Gilmore, Early, Kilgore, and McDonnell all started way ahead of Cuccinelli in this arena. Even Wyatt Durrette, who in 1985 got crushed worse than any GOP gubernatorial nominee, started in better shape.

MEANING X TO THE 5TH: Unless Cuccinelli changes his basic MO, it might be mathematically impossible for him to win against any Democrat, even one with less campaign cash than any gubernatorial nominee since the 1980’s.

Do the math: GOP gubernatorial nominees who have won the right to sleep in Mr. Jefferson’s Mansion have always had some decent ability to pick up a slice of the Democratic vote. This appeal as in turn helped them greatly in having appeal to the middle of the road voter.

But Mr. Cuccinelli, at present, has no such cross-over mojo. Thus he starts at a distinct disadvantage to all previous winning GOP gubernatorial nominees.

Moreover, there is not abundant evidence that Cuccinelli appreciates this historic fact, much less gives it any 2013 credence.

Thus, X TO THE 6TH POWER: The Democratic nominee for governor might only have to be (1) legally alive, (2) not in any prison, (3) have a valid voter ID card, and (4) visit the state at least once a week to keep up his residency, in order to win next fall. Okay, so he will have to show up for a couple of debates. That too.

Did Terry figure this out before anyone else? I am thinking: Maybe so, for as Yogi Berra said, “some things are too coincidental to be a coincidence.”

Perriello, McEachin, Scott, to name the three most mentioned recently and a host of others have thought about running for governor: but all figured that with McDonnell being popular, and the wife’s tale of the out-party in the White House winning the Virginia governorship, 2013 would be a Republican year.

So they figured: Let Terry be the sacrificial lamb. 2017 would be better. Terry is smiling today, and deservedly so. He saw an opening, and he has been going around the state building up a lead. It seems self-evident today, but it wasn’t when he started. Give the boy some credit.

But how much of a lead is it in reality?

We can mathematically develop the answer. We can review the history of Virginia politics to provide good clues. But that’s for another column.

Right now, I want to compliment Terry on what could be the greatest steal since Jackie Robinson swiped home plate in the 1955 World Series in Yankee Stadium before Yogi Berra’s disbelieving eyes. Berra swears he tagged Robinson out. No friggin’ way. And that was Robinson 5 years past his prime. A younger Robinson would have crossed home plate before the ball reached Yogi’s mitt.

Right now, I am thinking Robinson would be smiling as Terry streaked for home plate. Anyone can steal second, even third.  But stealing home plate is different. Because you got to do it while everyone is watching and they don’t see it coming.  

  • Evan

    Terry accepted the outcome of the last primary and started working toward convincing Virginia Democrats that he was their guy. He did this by crisscrossing the state tirelessly and effectively (two words that pretty much describe everything Terry does).