Home 2019 Elections Poll: McDonnell’s Surprising Popularity Trouble for Democrats?

Poll: McDonnell’s Surprising Popularity Trouble for Democrats?


by Paul Goldman

Chefgate, Stargate, record taxes, record  unreported wedding gifts don’t seem to have affected Governor McDonnell’s popularity with the voters. Most Democrats like the job the boy has been doing: go figure. If McD has over 60% job approval from all registered voters, he might have 70%+ with the likely voters who actually show up in November.

It is not a question of whether I think he deserves such high ratings; it is only a 200-proof question of whether this ratings will stick by November.  My experiences in strategizing these kinds of things tells me this: if Cuccinelli spends a ton of his time pumping McD on TV as a successful GOP Governor – then it will help Cuccinelli get votes.

Yes, Dems will say that Cuccinelli is no McDonnell, and try to say it was Terry not Ken who helped on transportation, etc. But if Cuccinelli does it right, the Dem line will not sell. Why not? Because McD will on the tube pumping Cuccinelli. If McD will do negative ads against Terry, then that is an even bigger potential problem.

Robb and Warner refused to do negative attacks: but their positive TV ads were enough. More important fact: One reason Robb and Warner were popular when they left office was all the positive TV ads pumping their tenure, and the fact their guy won.

Remember: Terry has no incentive to attack McD, because McD is way more popular than he is. So Terry has no choice but to let Cuccinelli or a pro-McD PAC pump the Governor’s record. Meaning: Cuccinelli has a reason to praise McD even if they aren’t best buds, and McD has a reason to want Cuccinelli to win even if they aren’t best buds.

200-proof strategy question: Should outside Democratic PACs try to chip away at McD’s record Or put another way: Did all the Dem praise of McD on transportation actually hurt Dems this November? Given the current Washington Post Poll, the 200-proof analysis is: Democratic praise of McD on transportation has been a net loser for Dems in the Governor’s race so far.  

That can change with the right strategy. But Democrats have to understand this: McD may not, in a perfect world, want Cuccinelli as a successor. But it is in McD’s self-interest for Cuccinelli to win. Politically, they both need each other to max out their political interests.

Building the Governor UP has so far been a downer for Terry. Like I say, it can change. But it might not be as easy as people think if McD has any national ambitions. If he does, then he has to go to the mat for Cuccinelli. That’s 200-proof politics. It ain’t ever personal, just business,  


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