Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Yes Virginia, there is a McAuliffe Clause

The results are in for yesterday's elections. In Virginia, a new governor was elected as veteran campaigner Terry McAuliffe (Democrat) defeated current Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (Republican) and attorney Robert Sarvis (Libertarian). The final totals have McAuliffe with 47.9% of the vote, Cuccinelli with 45.5%, and Sarvis with 6.6%.

No one was shocked or even surprised by McAuliffe's victory. He has been leading in the polls--often by double digits--since September. But the narrowness was a bit surprising to some, as McAuliffe went in to the election with an average lead over Cuccinelli of nearly seven points. Now, after the fact, there are a lot of explanations as to why the race ended up far closer than the polls indicated. Politco runs through some of the more obvious in this piece.

At the top of the list is Obamacare. Prior to the website fiasco and the news of all of the cancellations due to the ACA, the issue wasn't a strong one for Cuccinelli in Virginia, despite it being a central feature of his platform, i.e. getting rid of Obamacare, possibly because most Virginians understood that as Governor of Virginia, he really couldn't make that happen. But after all the bad news about the ACA--which pushed the shutdown issue out of the spotlight, an issue that was good for McAuliffe especially in regions with a heavy Federal worker base--McAuliffe's support of the ACA likely turned some voters against him. The Politico piece also notes that McAuliffe's supposedly huge majority among women voters (a 24% advantage, prior to the election) turned out to be no different than the advantage enjoyed by Obama in the last Presidential Election (9%).

Despite the surprising closeness of the race, some are actually claiming McAuliffe's victory to be a rejection of "Tea Party Extremism." It was a rejection of Cuccinelli, no doubt. But hardly a sound one. After all, McAuliffe failed to garner a majority of the votes. If there had been no third party candidate, who knows what the final results might have been.

But while the Governor's race grabbed all the headlines in Virginia, let's not forgot about all of races for the Virginia House of Delegates. If there was going to be a rejection of Tea Party types, this would be the real battlefield. Because after all, it's where the Tea Party is strongest, at its best, at the local and grass roots level. So what happened there? Well, going in to yesterday, the Republicans controlled the Virginia House with 67 seats (out of 100). After yesterday's election, they now appear to have maintained this same advantage, despite two incumbents losing, because they won the seats of two retiring members, one a Democrat and one an Independent. Net change: zero.

So it would seem there is very little to the idea that Virginia voters rejected Tea Party extremism or pretty much anything else.

As to McAuliffe's success here, despite the late turn against him, he ran a very effective campaign. He also outspent Cuccinelli by a huge margin, largely thanks to big money from out-of-state. But most importantly, McAuliffe was allowed by most of the media to basically reinvent himself. His past was rarely used against him (Cuccinelli tried, but failed), even his recent past. In 2009, while running for the Democratic nomination for governor, McAuliffe said the following:
I want to move past coal. As governor, I never want another coal plant build.
That's pretty clear. And he took this position because it was in line with Obama's platform at the time. But here's McAuliffe in May of this year:
I was over at Alpha Natural Resources talking about what they need done to make sure we have a healthy work force of coal, that coal can continue. We need to make sure we do what we need to, to make sure this vital industry here in Virginia continues to grow. I can really help them on exports; to open up those Asia markets in China and Korea. As governor, I want to help them create more jobs to help exports around the world.
A better example of a full flip-flop may not exist, from saying he never wants another coal plant built to saying he wants the coal industry to grow. Yet, McAuliffe was largely allowed to skate free on this. And it's just one of many flip-flops on McAuliffe's part.

So how did he pull it off? Aside from having more money and getting free passes from the media, McAuliffe had the full support of the Clinton brand in this race, both Hillary and Bill. And in this respect, we know a truth here: past transgressions don't matter when it comes to the Clintons; they're allowed more "mistakes" than Steve Howe ever was, their lies magically fade into the ether for a good portion of the population because the media constantly tells us how popular they are and because they are both likely pathological liars, insofar as they believe their own lies with such a vigor then completely ignore them when exposed. It's a real talent, politically speaking. And McAuliffe seems to have learned it. Or maybe, just maybe, he's the one that taught the Clintons...

Cheers, all.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder how someone of McAuliffe's slimy nature can get elected anything. Also, the progressive model is failing spectacularly around the globe and in the States, but somehow they still seem to get elected. I just don't get it.