By Paul Goldman
Governor McAuliffe, as all Virginia chief executive's before him, exercised his constitutional authority to appoint Jane Marum Roush, formerly a judge on the Fairfax Circuit Court, to the Virginia Supreme Court. A vacancy in the High Court occurred while the State Legislature was not in Session. Pursuant to the Virginia Constitution, Governor McAuliffe filled the vacancy with now Justice Roush on July 27. The Republican dominated State Legislature cried foul on the ground he had not first sought their advice before making the appointment. Pursuant to a federal court order, the Governor has called the General Assembly into Special Session starting Monday to redraw new congressional district boundaries to replace the ones declared unconstitutional earlier this month.
Once in session, the Virginia constitution permits the General Assembly to exercise its power to replace - if it so chooses - Justice Roush, whose gubernatorial appointment only had temporary legal effect unless approved by the General Assembly.
The Republicans had asked the federal court to delay their Special Session order until the U.S. Supreme Court decided whether to hear the GOP's appeal asking the Justices to overturn the lower' federal court's redistricting decision. But the U.S. Supreme Court denied this appeal on August 5th.
This, then, is the very unique chain of events that apparently will lead to Justice Roush having the shortest Virginia Supreme Court tenure in history. If dumped, she would not be able to reclaim her old Fairfax Court position. This apparently is unprecedented at least in modern times.
In attacking the Governor, the GOP is selling "wolf tickets" in this matter. We are surprised so many have bought this Republican spin.
But do the logic. It doesn't take Bobby Fischer to see through this GOP spin move.
Both outgoing Republican Governor Bob McDonnell - unfairly accused of criminal wrongdoing due to the clever maneuverings of a con man - and incoming Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe - unfairly associated with criminal conduct by the AP and other news outlets during the campaign - could benefit greatly by JOINING TOGETHER to propose ethics reforms for passage by the 2014 General Assembly (or possibly a Special Session at the start of the 2014 General Assembly, when McDonnell would still be technically in office).
The reasons for this unprecedented joint collaboration are plain enough, helping both men who both could use a great opening/closing WIN at the start/end their gubernatorial terms. McDonnell needs to "clean up" the mess that has been made by all the gifts accepted from con man Jonnie Williams. McDonnell, for his own legacy and to keep faith with Virginians who still have his back according to the polls, should propose a tough, stop-influence-peddling-as usual- ethics reform package. It will help him, our state and...the next Governor.
Why? Virginia has the weakest laws in the nation on state legislative and executive ethics in the country. Having known a far number of Governors and legislators in my time, their basic integrity has enabled Virginia to do a lot better than states with tougher laws. So yes: A tough law is no guarantee, no panacea. In the end, it takes ethical people to have ethical government. I get that. BUT at the same time, perception is reality in a lot of ways in governing, and moreover, lax laws allow a lot of things not to be reported, to be shrouded, to happen in the shadows when we need transparency.
And then, of course, there is this reality: given what has been in the papers and dominated the election in 2013, the kind of tough, stop-influence-peddling-as-usual ethics reform package is going to be a political necessity. That isn't going to sit well with a lot of General Assembly members who may fell it is an indirect admission of things not being all that right in Richmond.
THEREFORE: Having a GOP incumbent and his Democratic successor jointly get behind this kind of reform has to be a real WIN-WIN-WIN all around. It gives McDonnell a way to leave on a high note, and it gives McAuliffe a way to come in taking the high ground. It will smooth the way for the best possible package and it will be seen not as a knock on anyone but as a positive all around.
On an historic basis, none of the previous Democratic GUV winners in the modern age - Robb, Baliles, Wilder, Warner and Kaine - would have gone with the McAuliffe campaign's closing strategy of having the efforts of major national figures like former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg's million dollar spending and now - last but hardly least - the President himself dominate the news coverage in the closing days of the campaign.
Times change, circumstances change, no question.
BUT: Moreover, the President is finally getting into the fray this weekend as the Obamacare issue goes viral, and not in a good way politically. .
At 200 proof, we don't judge right or wrong, we leave those thing to the really smart people. We simply call the play on the field, as it unwinds after the snap to the quarterback. We try to ask the right questions, and answer them in a fair manner to the extent possible in the boundaries of human nature.
So we ask: Given the polls, and assuming they are right, why - on a net, net basis - would you want to nationalize the election by having coverage of Bill Clinton, and now the President, define the close given the way the Obamacare issue is building toward election day?
As a political issue, Obamacare, as we wrote weeks ago, should have been a net PLUS politically for Cuccinelli. Why? Simple: Like most things in politics that are difficult to achieve - national health care being one of the toughest ever tackled by a President - there are going to be winners and losers among Americans as they perceive their economic interests.
As the famous advertising slogan in New York City declared: BS walks, money talks.
And as far as most voters are concerned, politics is mostly BS to them because they are sure that the "devil is in the details" of everything, that a politician isn't lying only when his or her lips aren't moving. "Read My Lips: No New Taxes" claimed President George Bush the elder.
Of course he didn't keep that promise: his lips were moving when he said it. That's what real people living in the real world think, right or wrong, its their opinion and actually never more than now if you believe the polls.
We live in a sound bite political culture. The most popular Governor in the modern history of Virginia - Chuck Robb - was famous for saying things in such a convoluted manner that it proved impossible to get a sound bite. It worked brilliantly, he came across as thoughtful and middle of the road. But in the campaign, he knew how to do sound bites. "No More Car Tax" is probably the best known - and most untrue - sound bite to ever dominate a Governor's race. Gilmore promised the local car tax would be gone 10 years ago! How did that work out Jimbo?
Don Beyer, his losing Democratic opponent, had the most honest sound bite: "I won't lie to you about the car tax." He didn't. ."
Guess who was slam dunking right on the merits? Guess who won the election in a landslide?
Whether fair or not, Obamacare sound bites threaten to dominate the political news going in one ear and out the other right through election day BECAUSE the voters Cuccinelli needed to win the election think they pay too much for health care except those with too much money to spend any time thinking about how to pay for their health care. Given the media in America, they are going to cover the negative, they are going to run sound bites of those upset. Local news loves car crashes, murder victims, and those willing to go camera to complain about being a victim of government, whatever. It gets ratings.
Let's be honest: If the President had to go to Massachusetts to defend Obamacare by calling on the ghost of Mitt Romney and evoke Romneycare to prove the value of Obamacare, then THE DARN POLITICAL WORLD IS UPSIDE DOWN POLITICALLY WEIRD RIGHT NOW.
The President is trying a two-cushion billiard ball carom shot into the middle pocket. Even the folks in a Harvard PHD program would have a tough time following that argument. The legendary Pool Hall Hustler Minnesota Fats would likely pass on trying to make that double bank shot.
People want a simple answer: Will I have to pay more for my health care?
And the right answer is the wrong one politically: "It depends what you mean by more."
They don't really care if they can keep their current health care plan if the "Obamacare" one will cost them less. But getting an apple to apples comparison isn't all that easy, and not possible to explain in a sound bite.
As Bill Clinton, the brilliant lawyer, said: "It depends what is...is."
Not his best sound bite either, but he was right on the law.
As they say in politics, "if you are explaining you are losing."
The sound bite war that is.
Fact: Unless something unexpected happens, Obamacare will be a LOSING SOUNDBITE ISSUE through election day next Tuesday.
It might save your life on Wednesday. But not before you have to vote. .
So this why 200 proof asks: Is it the right closing strategy to in effect nationalize the election, ending the campaign with an appearance by the President, which right now figures to have a picture of the President, Terry, Bill and possibly Hillary on the front page of every page Monday, dominating the nightly news the prior Sunday, and possibly leading to an "Obamacare referendum" headline on Tuesday, along with giving the GOP bloggers - who don't much like Cuccinelli - a united rallying cry for the next several days.
Moreover, it is purely a "turnout" strategy. Yes, this figures to be a "turnout" election since it has not yet been dominated by any substantive issue although the generic issue of Cuccinelli being an extra standards deviation or two from the norm surely has shaped the playing field.
But since the polls show TMAC with a solid lead - and the poll show Democrats eager to vote more than Republicans - why do you need a "turnout" strategy that risks turning out more Republicans who might not have voted than Democrats?
What may friends in DC tell me is this: "Come on Paul, are you that much of idiot, the President wants a piece of the win, so do the Clintons, the TMacker is going to win, that's the whole thing this last week."
My response was: "I am probably an idiot, I get that. But so you are saying this is basically a victory lap prior to the victory?"
The fact is that in this space, 200 proof was the first in the state to point out statistically - a year ago when others were saying Cuccinelli was a sure winner - that TMacker would win, and we upped it to a DEM sweep before the Democratic primary meaning it didn't matter who won the nomination, they were all going to win.
I have absolutely no doubt this is what would have happened had the election been held this past Tuesday.
There is no question the President's campaigning will increase Democratic turnout. But it also could lead to a bigger relative increase in Republican turnout. It could also convince some of those interested in voting for Sarvis to switch to Cuccinelli on a net-net basis since the third party Libertarian is hurting the GOP nominee more than the DEM nominee according to the polls.
In the end, it all gets down to the numbers, the same reason Obamacare is having trouble politically right now.
Bottom line: Democrats and Democratic leaners already have a reason to vote for Terry. Contrary to the news reports, the polls show Democrats like him, it isn't an anti-Cuccinelli vote.
The guy with the real problem with losing votes other Republicans have received because of his image is Cuccinelli, who has real problem among a bloc of regular voters who seldom have "voting Democrat" as their favorite pastime.
They don't like Cuccinelli.
But the odds say that right now, they aren't big fans of Obamacare and they aren't all that happy with the President either.
Why give these Virginians reason - a reason they don't have right now - to cast a reluctant vote for Cuccinelli, more importantly come to the polls to support Mark Obenshain, the emerging "hope" of the depressed GOP.
Bill Clinton has just toured the state, getting big news coverage. Isn't that enough GOTV high-profile campaigning?
The Cuccinelli campaign was on a downward trend until the nationalization of the contest began getting more attention as so many groups want to "own" a piece of the victory.
Net, Net: I voted for the President 3 times, and but for the 22nd Amendment, would be voting for him again. Political strategy is best without passion or prejudice.
If Democrats aren't ready to vote, if Democratic leaning independents aren't ready to vote, if the anti-Cuccinelli Republican isn't ready to vote by now, an appearance by the President will not likely move them except at the margins.
So I don't see the upside when measured against the downside risk, however small, of finally giving a lot of normal but turned GOP types a reason to hold their nose and cast a protest vote against the President.
It probably doesn't matter in the end. But that suggests only further reason not to do it on the Democratic side of the game.
While the Hampton University Poll is new, it surely seems to be the best one this year based on the quality of their work. They have TMAC up 6, slightly above Quinnipiac, not the Post's +12. With all due respect, the Washington Post poll, showing TMAC with a record double-digit lead for a VA DEM guv guy, assumed an electorate which had a record low number of self-identified Republicans. This in turn, produced an electorate with a +8% Democratic lean - that is to say 8% more self-identified Democrats than Republicans. Thus the Post is assuming the gubernatorial year partisan split will basically match the presidential year (+7 Democrat) divide. Moreover, the poll also projects a record low number partisan identifying voters (56% would be D's and R's), meaning a record high percent of independents, well north of 40%.
True, the Post electorate projection might be right. BUT: While this might be a reasonable electorate projection for a poll in 2014 AFTER this type of divide ACTUALLY occurred on November 5th, 2013, it isn't reasonable right now. Especially since the Post has been so hard on Mr. Cuccinelli for so long this year, the toughest attack on any GUV candidate EVER.
All things considered, the Post might best have done the poll over and eaten the cost. Or weighted the results to a more historically defensible equation. According to the Hampton Poll, the joke candidate Sarvis could cost Cuccinelli possibly 2-3 full percentage points if Virginians actually are serious about voting for this guy. Indeed, the Hampton Poll picks the fact Sarvis - and this does seem to be true - is getting an amazing vote in Central Virginia.
As I co-wrote in the Washington Post column Sunday, Cuccinelli has faced more chess board hurdles than any GUV candidate in memory, the Sarvis joke factor simply another although generated in large measure by many Republican and independent voters being turned off the Cuccinelli campaign. Bad luck in one sense as we wrote Sunday, but Cuccinelli only has his campaign to blame in a far larger measure.
Back to the polls: At 200-proof we don't punt or hedge, we call the play on the field, and if you got to throw the flag and call a penalty, you do it. The Post Poll, using a +8 Democratic electorate with record low Republicans, is simply a biased poll by any fair definition here in October/2013. It isn't a question of whether it turns out to be true or not: it simply isn't a fair statistical model based on historical voting patterns and that needs to be said.
BOTTOM LINE: If you want a good poll, then I recommend the Hampton University Poll. But it would be good also to read the Q-Pac poll, since it is the first in the heat of the campaign to actually predict growing interest among Republicans this year. While within the margin of error, this is the first poll to say more Republicans will vote than Democrats. But it has the Democratic vote, as part of the electorate, LESS than in 2009.
Historically, there has been a trend at the end, more times than not, toward Republicans. But the Quinnipiac pollsters don't tell us where this GOP rush is coming from. Did the Bloomberg million dollar buy, the Clinton "full on" for McAuliffe arouse Republicans somehow, giving them something to vote against since Cuccinelli has the highest negatives in history of any GUV candidate.
Historically speaking, all things considered, the Hampton Poll is the most balanced on a technical basis in my view at this point in time. A lot of stuff can happen in a week, and on election day, you never know. That's why they still have to count the ballots. But while I stick with my analysis in the Post and over the year - Democrats have had the advantage and they should sweep - the Quinnipiac Poll could be a warning, as it shows TMAC's image having deteriorated over the course of the campaign badly, although not as badly as Cuccinelli's.
Long story short: The fact that the Cuccinelli campaign failed to use a biased Post poll as a political dart board is baffling, since that is the easy play really given his coalition. They will seize on the Q-Pac poll, as it is the best polling news they have received in months, and right at the end of the campaign to boot.
BUT AS A TECHNICAL MATTER, the Hampton Poll again strikes me as the most balanced right now in technical, professional terms. As I have written repeatedly, the "horse race" numbers are of the least interested to me, although of the most interest to the press and to most writers. However, the "horse race" standing is DERIVATIVE. The way you vote is based on your view of the candidates, not the other way around.
The Hampton Poll is projecting a slightly Democratic lean to the electorate, which is where the race is RIGHT NOW in my view.
Among white Republicans, 1 in 5 have a negative view of Cuccinelli! Among white Democrats, only 1 in 10 have a negative view of McAuliffe. This is why the Hampton Poll correctly shows 2013 has been basically a TURNOUT ELECTION, not like most recent GUV races where an issue decided to contest. It is the negative view of Cuccinelli among voters usually open to a GOP GUV candidate that makes his job of winning on election day so hard.
Roughly 1/3 of the electorate will be older white voters self-identified as retired. Given Republicans are having trouble with younger voters who tend also to be newer or less regular ballot casters, any GOP GUV candidate has got to have a strategy to max his or her voter among these older Virginians. A guy like Cuccinelli can't make up from another voter pool losses among voters who he should have been able to win over.
The Hampton Poll shows that for all the talk about his gender gap problems, Cuccinelli's image among single white men and women is roughly the same. Rather, trying to do some deductive reasoning fast, the Hampton Poll suggests his problem is with married white older female voters, in theory the ones he thinks are most receptive to his traditional social issues agenda. NOT!
In part this seemingly has to true due to the fact older white Democrats and white Democratic-leaning independents are rejecting Cuccinelli to the max, contrary to McDonnell, Allen and Gilmore, the recent GOP winners. That is to say: These Democrats have been constantly warming to TMAC and increasingly colder toward Cuccinelli. Thus, you begin to see Cuccinelli's TURNOUT PROBLEM, when you add the fact that his negative image among Republicans is on the statistically high side.
The Hampton Poll shows that among older white voters of retirement age, Cuccinelli and TMAC have the same basic image among this important posse of voters. This is driven by the analysis above in large measure. Since these folks vote regularly, to win he either needs to change their minds in 6 days or find a way to motivate either a lot of Republicans not all that interested in voting this year and/or a whole new group of Virginians who generally don't vote in a GUV year or are new to voting.
A candidate who can't expand his base like McDonnell in 2009 - he got a lot of voters who were positive toward President Obama - can only win with a big relative turnout of such partisan or partisan leaning voters who are prone to voting or a whole new slice of voters.
Conclusion: You can take the Hampton Poll and the Q-Poll, then harmonize the results; they are indeed similar in important ways even if there are key differences. The actual horse race numbers are within the same statistical zone, namely TMAC has a modest but statistically significant lead.
The Sarvis joker card is there and most of his voters are in protest, not pro-Sarvis mode. History suggests half could switch to a major candidate, yet they have stayed with Sarvis for a long time in the polls now so maybe they are just going to go ahead and Vote No to the major party guys. T
This puts Cuccinelli in a difficult statistical bind since the younger first time voters aren't likely to go his way, and his campaign stumbles cost $millions in contributions leaving him vulnerable to having no TV to influence remaining certain voters historically in expensive markets.
The Hampton Poll is good news for Mark Obenshain, since it suggests his image among voters is far stronger than Mark Herring's. As I have written on this page, a Democratic ticket push would be very helpful to Herring. The AG's race is a lot closer than it should be. But the Q-poll along with Hampton, suggests the GOP still has some non-presidential year advantages, at least down ballot, for a credible candidate.
If the GOP can somehow engender a turnout push in the closing the days, then Obenshain's TV advantage might prove effective. The AG's race is a mystery to me.
But the Republican's father, iconic Richard Obenshain, was the best pure politician in the history of the modern GOP except George Allen in his prime. So maybe some of it rubbed off on Mark.
He has had a rope-a-dope strategy really, smiling for the camera, absorbing the blows, and then finishing with flourish. Herring is fighting back but this is a crazy year with a three way GUV contest.
Turnout will decide the AG's race in the Hampton Poll and that seems correct. The Hampton Poll sets the marker. If Q-Pac is right, then a relative rise in GOP leaning voters can lift Obenshain to an amazing win really even as Cuccinelli falls considerably short. But if the Post is right and Democrats are going to start voting like it is 2016 already, then Herring wins with a decent margin.
A credible, positive closing argument by Cuccinelli might save Obenshain. My money is still on the sweep, predicted back in the Spring before the Democratic primary.
As they say in football, it always comes down to the basic block and tackling.
Here at 200-proof, we don't judge right or wrong, we just call the action on the field. For the journalistic profession, specifically among those in the so-called fourth estate or fourth branch of government covering politics, the biggest action in years has been their collective response to long-time AP reporter Bob Lewis' firing over a wildly erroneous story about Terry McAuliffe written by him.
Shortly thereafter, the AP retracted the story, as it turns out that McAuliffe had not "lied" nor "misled" anybody. Presumably, Mr. Lewis concluded a reference in the documents to someone only identified as "T.M." meant Terry McAuliffe. Turns out it was not McAuliffe - whoops! The AP's initial response was to suspend Bob Lewis for his mistake. After further review, the AP fired Lewis, along with two editors involved in the story-editing process. In response, there have been employee grievances filed, and this being America, folks have likely "lawyered up" on all sides. We can presume there is more - perhaps a lot more - to come, although how much of the action will be made public remains to be seen. But even if you convened a new Warren Commission to report back by the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination, it might not be possible to determine precisely why a savvy veteran reporter made such an error, why the mistake got past at least two different editors, and why the AP decided to impose the "death penalty" on all three of their employees.
Mr. Lewis recently talked to the Washington Post about the matter, calling himself "stunned and hurt" at being fired, despite what he characterized as 28 years of "unblemished" service to the AP. The Post story said Mr. Lewis "declined further comment pending a grievance complaint by the News Media Guild." The Post story appears to reflect the general feeling in the VA press corps about the matter -- that the punishment in this case was "disproportionate" to the mistake, and certainly that a great reporter (and great guy) like Bob Lewis didn't deserve it.
In addition, neither the Post story nor the collective sense of the Virginia media found any good reason why the AP "management" might feel totally justified in firing Lewis.
With billionaire Mike Bloomberg being invited to go "all-in" to support what the NRA and rural Virginia will paint as an "anti-gun" agenda, we at 200-proof believe the 2013 election goes from amazing to downright historic. In theory, the 3-way nature of the race might be the reason McAuliffe risks looking like he is going "left" at the end (while Cuccinelli is going hard "right" at the end). As the person most responsible for the Wilder-Warner model used by the only successful GUV candidates in the last generation (Kaine basically took the best aspects of both efforts and added his unique personal appeal at the end debunking the Kilgore death penalty close), we at 200-proof can say this: the McAuliffe model is based on a different read of how you get the most votes in a Virginia GUV election, at least this year.
Again, it could be the presence of Sarvis, and a decision that the third-party joke candidate is going to take, on a net basis, a few points of independent-type folks who might otherwise have gone for Cuccinelli. Thus, this would mean that Sarvis isn't going to collapse; he can get 6-8% if not more: and thus 47% wins.
Under that scenario, the polls make the following clear: McAuliffe can win with a solid Dem GOTV effort that makes the electorate a few more points Dem over GOP, as opposed to the +4 GOP margin in 2009. With Cuccinelli the most unpopular GOP GUV guy among Democrats EVER, this means McAuliffe can win by just doing what the polls say can happen - ride a good Dem turnout to victory. Under these assumptions, McAuliffe doesn't need the traditional swing, independent voters thought to decide Virginia elections.
Why not? Because those voters aren't available to Cuccinelli this year in the numbers needed to win under that scenario. Cuccinelli's strategy - also historic, but from the right side of the game - seems to likewise suggest closing with the usual pitch to less partisan, more middle-of-the-road voters is likewise not an option for him.
Even more amazing than Governor McDonnell's high poll ratings is the low turnout being predicted for Evangelical/Born-Again Christian voters in the latest NBC/Marist Poll. Although I took a lot of heat for calling this key finding in the early polls, the NBC/Marist poll highlights the shocking question for Republicans: Where, oh where, is the their White Evangelical/Born-Again Christian voting base?
Either the Marist Poll is way wrong - or there is a big Disappearing Evangelical Christian Vote this year in Virginia. According to the 2009 exit poll, 34% of those polled said they where "White Evangelical/Born Again" Christians. Now maybe - I am just speculating - this poll question was only asked of those self-identifying in the poll as white. I don't think so, but let's assume so. Even then, the number calculates to 27%.
In the 2012 exit polls, it is also confusing to truly understand the numbers. But when you cross-check them, it would appear that the 23% given as the "White evangelical or white born-again Christian" voter share of the total electorate checks out. According to the new Marist poll, the number will be around 18%. Thus, by any analysis, there has been a significant disappearance of the White Evangelical/Born-Again Christian voter.
By any normal set of markers, this part of the GOP base - historically 6-1 Republican - should vote in greater relative numbers in 2013 than in 2012! Even assuming 23%, this would shift the Governor's race into the TOO CLOSE TO CALL CATEGORY RIGHT NOW! That's right: the polls are not showing a massive loss of "moderate" GOP votes by Ken Cuccinelli or even Reverend Jackson. Moreover, what would seem to be a more normalized GOP turnout in this key part of the Republican base translates into an Obenshain edge for AG right now.
So I ask: Where have all the evangelical voters gone? It defies logic given that you have Cuccinelli and Jackson at the top of the ticket. What more could these voters want, in theory at least? But maybe THAT IS THE EXACT POINT? For some reason, Reverend Jackson especially may be turning these voters off. Is that possible? It surely defies conventional wisdom.
When the President signed legislation late last night saving GOP Speaker John Boehner from his own caucus (the Republican House majority voted against the bill reopening the government and preventing default), Obama sealed the deal for Terry McAuliffe. Chris LaCivita, the Rasputin behind Ken Cuccinelli's campaign strategy, had been saying for months that he had an "October surprise" guaranteed to win the election for his client.
Back in April, we dismissed the October surprise silliness from LaCivita, rejecting the other gurus claiming - you can look it up - that Cuccinelli was a "sure" winner if he could raise enough money to "go negative" against Terry. At the time, the Washington Post poll had Cuccinelli up double digits. We didn't believe the polls. Moreover, as we have written, all this stuff about an October surprise, some Cuban Missile Crisis-type event, is the stuff of urban legend. It will no doubt be true someday, but by luck, not by design.
Still, we concede that yesterday Chris got his surprise. And it was in October. Except it wasn't the kind of surprise he had in mind. Instead, the President signed a bill ending the latest Republican-inspired foolishness in Washington, while also sealing the deal for Terry McAuliffe, the next Governor of Virginia.
This isn't to say that McAuliffe's margin of victory will be the same as in the polls; it could be closer. Ralph Northam, of course, will win big. But there is still a chance, if Democrats don't rally together, for our prediction of a sweep to fall short, if Mark Obenshain manages to squeak past Mark Herring. But THAT SHOULD NOT HAPPEN.
Seemingly a political eternity ago (these campaigns are long), I wrote that a candidate like GOP presumptive nominee Ken Cuccinelli might no longer be electable in Virginia. I based that observation on exit poll data (see below) from the 2009 Deeds vs. McDonnell race. I got the expected yada, yada, yada in email, texts, and conversations over the next few weeks. Moreover, at the time, some of us were trying to get AG Cuccinelli to back certain changes in the state election laws removing constitutionally flawed denials of certain political rights to candidates and voters.
So people thought I was being...well...a little too provocative. But my analysis had not the hint of anything personal, and I knew the AG's staff reads my stuff, so they would see the analysis as being what we do at 200-proof, on TV regularly in Richmond, for national web sites and newspapers.
We don't judge right or wrong, issue wise or personal traits: we leave that to the "gurus" - the really smart people. We just call it like we see it. And if you studied the 2009 exit poll, something seemed self-evident if you made A FEW REASONABLE ASSUMPTIONS.
1. Logic suggested that the 2009 exit poll should have caught the GOP wave AT THE CREST. The McDonnell-Bolling-Cuccinelli, three-way landslide set the record; there had never been such a complete up-and-down-the-ballot wipeout in the modern two-party era in Virginia. So at 200-proof, we figured: this has to be, as Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt might say, "as good as it gets."
To sweep, or not to sweep, that is the question. This column should be read with The Beatles in the background singing "with a little help from my friends." Yes, my lonely prediction, back in the Spring, of the first Democratic sweep since Wilder-Beyer-Terry in 1989, is now being seen by the "gurus" as based on sound predictive analysis. Because the "gurus" don't ever want to be wrong, they almost always take the "conventional wisdom" line, and in Virginia, the conventional wisdom is this: Republicans are a lock for AG unless Democrats win a Robb '81 or Baliles '85 like-size win for Governor.
On the surface this seems true, since Baliles and Robb rank #1 and #2 for the size of a Dem GUV win. I believe Robb did around 53.5% and Baliles came in at 55%, carrying all of the state's congressional districts. In those years, Baliles, running for AG on the Robb ticket, won a narrow victory. In 1985, Mary Sue Terry, at the time the perfect candidate for Virginia, got north of 60% in her first successful run for AG. Otherwise, in the modern two-party era, the other Dem AG candidates - all men - have all lost.
However, this conventional wisdom from Dr. Sabato and others hangs on a thin reed: namely, Creigh Deed's photo finish loss by the proverbial nose to Bob McDonnell in the 2005 AG's race. Had Deeds won, then there would be no Sabato et al thesis, at least as is.
But Kaine's two-party vote was less than Robb's, so the basic thesis would seem to be: If a Dem candidate for Governor gets north of 53% in a hypothetical two-way race, then the Dem AG candidate should win. At 52% or less, it becomes progressively more iffy. It is a thesis that fits the two-party era evidence for a non-incumbent on the Dem ticket for AG when you take out Mary Sue Terry's historic first-ever win for a female statewide candidate. She ran a perfect race and was probably the perfect candidate for that point in time.
How valid is this thesis? There is no way to know, and more over, no time to have a big yada, yada, yada, over it. The 200-proof bottom line: We have the courage of our convictions, and thus say the first Dem sweep is likely....IF....IF... Terry and Ralph do something that has not happened in the modern two party era: a proactive, issue-oriented, UP FRONT AND PERSONAL Democratic ticket campaign.