by Paul Goldman
The Virginia GOP is one Tea’ed-up Party, but they ain’t seen nothing yet: that will come if current trends hold, and the Virginia GOP goes down to their worst defeat ever in the two-party era. Prior to 1969, Republicans didn’t have any chance in a state still dominated by the segregationist Byrd Machine. But in 1969, Republican Linwood Holton became the first in Lincoln’s Party to win the Governor’s Mansion in the Old Dominion. In the ensuing 43 years, a Republican has held at least one of the 5 statewide elected positions in the Commonwealth.
Since the spring, I have been predicting that after Inauguration Day next year, there will NO Republicans in statewide office for the first time since Holton’s swearing-in. At that time, Richard Nixon was President, headed for a landslide win destined to carry into office the first Republican Senator in state history. Just 4 years ago, the Republican statewide ticket ran the table on the Democrats in the biggest three-way landslide in two-party history. One year later, Republicans gained several seats in the House of Representatives, the next year reaching a record high in the House of Delegates.
Fast forward to late September 2013, when all the polls indicate the possibility of an historic Democratic sweep in a few weeks, the first 0-5 for the GOP since the 1966 election of two Democratic Senators to add to the party’s three statewide office holders.
But you say: “Come on Paul, you are just pushing your sweep thesis, what else would you be expected to say?” Here is what I can not only be expected to say but will say: we are quite possibly headed not only for a sweep, but potentially a watershed election. In that regard, I happen to have run two campaigns where the Washington Post poll hugely inflated our lead (indeed, their numbers were contrary to ours). But my sweep thesis was made when the Post Poll had Cuccinelli up 11 percentage points last spring. Thus, the newest poll showing Terry ahead 8 percentage points in a three-way race doesn’t figure into my current calculations either.
Truth is, the Post poll doesn’t show anything more statistically significant than have all the other surveys in recent weeks, nor are my predictions from this spring. First of all, Cuccinelli is going to get the lowest cross-over Democratic vote EVER for a Republican candidate for Governor. I mean EVER. The Democratic anti-Cuccinelli fervor is simply amazing. This is why I believe the 2009 turnout, featuring 4 percentage points more Republicans than Democrats, can’t be duplicated by Cuccinelli this year. Yes, he has the more “loyal” followers. But that’s because he has the smallest base of voters!
Meaning: If you assume Cuccinelli has the lowest cross-over Dem vote ever, and you further postulate that anti-Cuccinelli fervor among Dems is high, then Cuccinelli has to do three things in October: 1) motivate lukewarm, normally GOP voters; 2) gin-up his own base to 2009 levels; and 3) win independents at 55% or more. Why? Because all the polls show that Cuccinelli has a certain “bleed” among Republicans. Even if he stops this voter bleed-out, he needs to win indies to triumph.
Right now, as I have written locally and nationally, Cuccinelli doesn’t have either the issue, the strategy, or the brain trust to make that happen. But you say: “Terry and posse could mess up.” Sure, 6 weeks is a lifetime in politics. True. However: There is no reason to think this will happen. Indeed, quite the opposite is possible. Terry is more likely to play smart politics while Cuccinelli is the one facing two new threats.
First, E. W. Jackson, the LG nominee for the GOP, is simply not qualified for even a job that doesn’t require any qualifications. His latest attack on those who have different religious views than himself is contrary to the very teachings of his religion. Either Cuccinelli and Obenshain ultimately repudiate him – the smart move – or they stay silent, the dumb move. But either way, Jackson will cost them more votes as October plays out.
Second, you have the candidacy of Libertarian guv guy Robert Sarvis. His is a joke candidacy, based on a policy of giving you the choice of getting educated, getting stoned, getting high on harder drugs, and thus becoming, as Sarvis sees it, a fully free productive member of society. Logic says that kind of platform will appeal to a lot of young people who won’t normally vote and those Republicans/Libertarians who would normally vote against Terry anyway.
MEANING: As the gubernatorial candidates prepare for tomorrow’s debate, Terry has a good TV ad featuring popular Senator Mark Warner, while Cuccinelli is on the news trying to explain why EW Jackson is on his ticket, why he is losing votes to Sarvis, and why he doesn’t have a single winning issue with the voters.
NO, IT ISN’T OVER. But every week, there is a new “political fire” for Cuccinelli to put out. Right now, he is in danger of running the worst campaign for Governor since Wyatt Durrette in 1985. That was the last watershed year up and down the ballot.
The rumor is that Chris LaCivita has been holding back a game changer. If the architect of the Cuccinelli campaign has some October “surprise”, then it had better be a good one. I have never seen one of those work, but they are urban legend. I like a good surprise as much as the next guy. So if Hitchcock could prove Hollywood wrong by making the shower scene in Psycho work, then I suppose we should give Chris a chance to prove he really is psycho, so to speak.