by Paul Goldman
200-proof politically speaking, the new Washington Post poll has a lot of fascinating statistics. But the importance is not in the results, but rather in the timing. Namely, it couldn’t have come at a better time for Ken Cuccinelli.
According to all the “experts”, Cuccinelli was going to be hurt by opposing the transportation tax plan, the Star Scientific mess, the attacks from Bill Bolling and the Republican left, attacks from the mainstream pro-tax media, yada, yada, yada.
We at 200-proof hold to our views stated in lonesome fashion months ago: taking the anti-tax side in an election year has never been known to hurt any candidate. Being against massive spending in an election year has never been known to hurt a candidate.
Finally, Cuccinelli’s greatest asset/liability is his performance as AG. Only one person who has never held prior office has been elected Governor in the modern times — Mark Warner. But Warner spent $50 million in constant dollars on a losing race a few years before, and he did serve as Virginia Democratic party chair. Historically, therefore, if Cuccinelli has a positive image as AG – given his high profile in the office – then it stands to reason he has an advantage.
Attacks on Cuccinelli will be aimed at saying he used his tenure in office to champion an ideological agenda. IF that is not the public perception, then his tenure as AG is a major plus. Which is why his decision not to resign, as we have written, can help him if he can afford the pitfalls which have been clear with Star Scientific and the Ex-Chef at the Mansion case, and also the transportation situation.
I don’t know if he can avoid the pitfalls, I think it is a considerable risk, but at least I get the reward part: it keeps him in office, high profile, which is his best asset. So there is potentially considerable upside.
On a net, net basis, it is a very close 200-proof call: Gerry Baliles resigned after officially getting the Dem nomination for governor in 1985. I believe he got a job with some big law firm, although everyone knew he wasn’t doing any work. This was acceptable in 1985. Probably not in 2013. Meaning: how does Cuccinelli support his family if he quits and then campaigns full time with no income?
But that is an issue for another day.
TODAY: 200-proof finds the Post Poll numbers no big surprise, since it is all based on the turnout model. So we find it interesting to read but nothing more than that at this point. Show the same poll in August, and I’ll have a different reaction.
But the poll is great news for Cuccinelli because it comes when he is under attack on two matters, and his own party has yet to fully embrace him publicly. So to have the Post poll say you can win is huge for Cuccinelli.
The pressure is now on Republicans to unit behind Cuccinelli. There is NO EVIDENCE all the Bolling attacks and those from the GOP left have had any effect. Nationally, the GOP has to now get behind Cuccinelli. The poll, in my view, hides a lot of Cuccinelli’s weaknesses. But it helps on the unity thing and raising money.
Terry is too unknown for the poll to have any real meaning. BUT ONE ASPECT should worry the anti-Cuccinelli left: despite jobs/economy being the big issue, despite Terry owning that issue for governor since 2009, there is ZERO evidence it translates into votes Cuccinelli might have gotten.
Terry is running a major TV buy on the issue in some respects. He will presumably have a harder-hitting one soon. If they don’t translate into swing votes soon, then this is a troubling sign.
Bottom line: A bad poll for Cuccinelli at this moment would have hurt the boy. But he got the other, a present from the Post. The timing couldn’t have been better for the AG.