Home 2021 Elections With One Week Until VA GOP Convention, Political Analysts Are Thinking It’s...

With One Week Until VA GOP Convention, Political Analysts Are Thinking It’s Probably Pete Snyder’s to Lose, But….

...there's a lot of uncertainty given the complicated, somewhat opaque way the Republicans are choosing their nominees


Virginia Republicans nominate their candidates on Saturday, May 8…just one week from now, but it’s hard to know where things stand, as there’s basically no reliable public polling, and since this is an “unassembled convention,” in which who turns out and how the Ranked Choice Voting and other rules work out is a huge question mark. Over at PredictIt, for what that’s worth, they’ve got Pete Snyder as the favorite (at 51 cents right now) for the VA GOP’s gubernatorial nomination, followed by Glenn Youngkin (at 32 cents right now), and then Kirk Cox  (at 10 cents right now) and Amanda Chase (at 7 cents right now) trailing further behind. As for the Lt. Governor and Attorney General nominations, there’s no polling AND there’s no PredictIt market. Other than betting markets, of course, there’s always old-fashioned analysis by people who are plugged in, political junkies who closely follow this stuff, etc. For instance, check out the following conversations:

    1.  Ben “Not Larry Sabato” Tribbett and former Del. Chris Saxman
    2. “Transition VA” on “Who are the Republican candidates for Governor?”
    3. The “We Hate Politics” podcast: “Former Delegate David Ramadan discusses the Republican gubernatorial race”

First, according to Ben Tribbett, “it’s hard…to tell who’s been the most successful [Republican candidate] at signing people up for the convention,” so none of us “really know who’s coming and why they’re coming.” Ben’s analysis of the candidates for governor are:

  • Kirk Cox: Clearly trying to be “everyone’s #2,” but the problem is that Snyder‘s and Youngkin’s voters “are probably the same voters…probably 1-2 or 2-1 for most of them, even those two clearly don’t like each other, and I’m not sure Kirk is having the success he wants in terms of being people’s second choice, so I see him falling off pretty quickly.” Right now, Cox is probably in third of fourth place, in Ben’s view.
  • Pete Snyder: Is running a “very aggressive conservative campaign,” which could hurt him in a general election.
  • Glenn Youngkin: Ben thinks he’s a “nothingburger,” “generic” Republican, but can spend tens of millions of dollars of his own money on the general election if he chooses to do so.
  • Amanda Chase: Ben thinks she’d be the best candidate for Dems to run against.

For LG:

  • Ben thinks that former Del. Tim Hugo will be the Republican nominee, but that it was “incredibly stupid” for him to launch a homophobic attack against Del. Glenn Davis. In Ben’s view, this is “exactly the kind of stuff why Republicans lose elections and why they have trouble with suburban voters.” “He damaged himself going forward” by doing this. 
  • Glenn Davis: “I don’t think Glenn Davis was a serious candidate last time and I don’t think he’s a serious candidate this time.”
  • Winsome Sears: Silence and a smirk/laugh from Ben.

For AG:

  • Ben thinks it will be Del. Jason Miyares.

Also, on the Democratic side, Ben thinks Terry McAuliffe has it wrapped up for the governor’s nomination. For Lt. Governor, Ben thinks that Del. Sam Rasoul had the edge, but now Del. Hala Ayala “is right up there with him,” with the “door open for Sean Perryman.” For Attorney General, Ben thinks AG Mark Herring “has a substantial lead” right now, but says Del. Jay Jones is “a great candidate” and is “really well funded,” so…we’ll see.

Now, over to the “Transition VA” podcast, which has former Republican Del. David Ramadan and Republican operative Matt Colt Hall to discuss the statewide Republican candidates and the party’s convention next Saturday. A few key takeaways include:

  • Former Del. Ramadan thinks that Glenn Youngkin is “yet another millionaire who decided, you know I’ve got nothing better to do today, and let me run.” Ramadan says Youngkin is “not catching wind with people, he’s not gaining support, it takes a while to become a known commodity among the electorate…you need to spend years” doing that, and Youngkin hasn’t had that time, “and therefore Mr. Youngkin is not going to catch the following that he expects to catch in a convention setting, and I project that I don’t think he will get more than 10% of the vote.”
  • Hall “heavily” disagrees with Ramadan, says he’s very “impressed” with Youngkin, that his character is “really genuine,” “oozes charisma,” has a strong “work ethic,” etc., and that Republican voters are “engaged with him.” Having said that, Youngkin‘s “name ID is not as high as other candidates,” “he’s still trying to learn how this process works,” “he’s still new to it,” etc., but “I think he’s definitely a contender, I think he’ll get definitely more than 10%, personally I think it’s a two-person race between Snyder and Youngkin.”
  • On Pete Snyder‘s candidacy, Hall – who worked on Snyder‘s 2013 LG race – says he’s “played the long game…and that’s the advantage that Snyder has on Youngkin…he knows these activists…the party leaders, the party elders, he knows *everything* about him…he knows the playing field,” and “he is working hard to get that nomination.” So now he’s in the “top-two frontrunner status.”
  • Ramadan says it’s “Snyder‘s convention to lose; he’s been working this for eight years now”; he’s been all over the state and “built a name for himself…built relationships…and that’s why he’s the frontrunner.”
  • On Kirk Cox‘s candidacy, Ramadan says “he cannot win no matter how he’s running,” because “he never was a grassroots leader…outside of the Richmond and his district area”; he has “two votes that will…continue to hurt him [among Republicans” – a tax increase vote and Medicaid expansion. In a convention setting with hard-core Republican voters, that will put Cox “absolutely…at a disadvantage.” Thus, “there’s no way he can win.”
  • Hall says “those two votes [by Cox on tax increase, Medicaid expansion] mean a lot to the convention base.” “The math isn’t adding up.” “He’s definitely going to be a player in the convention,” but “the only time they ever talk about who’s supporting him are party officials and elected officials,” not a lot of rank-and-file Republicans/convention attendees, because “they don’t agree with his record…especially Medicaid expansion.” A lot of Republican voters feel “lied to” by Cox, in Hall’s opinion. “I don’t see your regular party folks coming out and saying, I want to vote for Kirk Cox.”
  • On Amanda Chase‘s candidacy, Hall says “she has lit her hair on fire, and the Republican voters are just kinda getting tired of it…[they] have heard her stomp her feet and scream at the top of her lungs for far too long…she is the Amanda who cried nonsense…at some point, voters just kind of turn her off, and I think she’s at that point…she had a very weak Q1 finance report…she got banned on Facebook…and she doesn’t have the organization to actually get a convention together…she’s making everyone mad.” Hall concludes that she’ll probably be primaried in 2023, and adds, “I don’t think she makes it to the final ballot, and to be honest, I think her political career is kind of shot at this point.”
  • Ramadan says that Chase is “the epitome of what’s wrong with the Republican Party today, and the epitome of that xenophobic, white nationalist, populist segment of the American society that is unAmerican by definition…She doesn’t belong in any realm of politics…[or] of public office…What she doesn’t understand or even comprehend is that she is exactly the reason and the example of why women in America are not voting Republican, and why minorities in America are not voting Republican, and why suburbia is not voting Republican.” But, “sadly, she will probably be the top candidate on the first ballot, but… I don’t see how, in any formula, that she is the 2nd, 3rd or 4th choice for anybody but that xenophobic, racist, nationalist segment that will go there to vote for her and nobody else.”

Finally, on the “We Hate Politics” podcast, former Del. Ramadan says:

  • “My assumption is it’s Pete Snyder on the Republican side and it is Terry McAuliffe on the Democratic side.” According to Ramadan, Snyder has painted himself so much as a Trump guy to win the nomination, there’s no way he can walk away from that by November.
  • On Youngkin and Cox, Ramadan says he doesn’t think they have a chance of winning the VA GOP nomination, although “it’s a crapshoot,” an unassembled convention where nobody really knows what will happen.
  • Ramadan predicts the governor’s nomination may go 3, 4, 5 ballots and then Snyder will come out of it.
  • Ramadan doesn’t think Chase has any chance of winning the nomination.
  • Ramadan thinks that if Youngkin‘s the nominee, he might only lose in November by 7-8 points or so, but Ramadan doesn’t think Youngkin will win the nomination.
  • Ramadan thinks if Cox is the nominee, he’ll probably lose in November by 12 points.
  • Ramadan thinks if Snyder‘s the nominee, he would lose by 10 points or so in November.



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