The Republican Establishment Lost Virginia
Jason Johnson is Chief Political Strategist to Senator Ted Cruz. — Erick
Much ink is being spilled concerning the elections yesterday. In my view, the spin being offered by Democrats and much of the media misses what really happened.
Several observations on the elections:
(1) Chris Christie should be congratulated. He won a big victory in a state that is historically very tough for Republicans. And his blunt, brash style is a refreshing change from the timidity of many Washington Republicans.
(2) Ken Cuccinelli should have won in Virginia.
(a) Despite weeks of polling showing him down by double-digits, the race was decided by just 2 percentage points, to the astonishment of the pundit class.
(b) The Washington Establishment bears the majority of the blame for this loss.
- At the urging of the Establishment, far too many national Republican donors declined to support Cuccinelli. He was outspent by nearly $15 million. You cannot win if you lack the resources to be heard. Because many donors—unfortunately, listening to the DC consultants who talk endlessly about the need to “win”—chose not to support his campaign, Cuccinelli was forced to go dark in the DC media market the final two weeks of the campaign. By contrast, liberal billionaires nationally poured millions of dollars into attacking him, and the GOP Establishment refused to do anything to help.
- When Cuccinelli’s “moderate” Republican rival for the nomination, the state’s former Lt. Governor, publicly attacked Cuccinelli and privately urged donors not to support him, the DC Establishment said nothing. Had a conservative done the same to a moderate Republican—taken his marbles and gone home when he did not win the primary—the uproar would have been deafening.
(c) The Democrats actually play to win. Cuccinelli likely would have won, if the so-called “Libertarian” candidate had not taken 7 percent of the vote. McAuliffe garnered 54,520 more votes than Cuccinelli. The Democrat’s “Libertarian” took 145,759 votes and was in the race because one of President Obama’s biggest bundlers largely funded the petition drive to put him on the ballot.
(i) In 1993, Republican victories in New Jersey and Virginia set the stage for the Republican sweep in 1994. In 2009, Republican victories in New Jersey and Virginia set the stage for the Republican sweep in 2010. Democrats understood that, are rightly concerned about 2014, and devoted millions to winning Virginia. The D.C. Republican Establishment did not demonstrate the same seriousness of purpose.
(ii) Much of the Democratic money that flowed into Virginia was prompted by the awareness that, in 2016, Virginia will likely be a swing state in the presidential election. Terry McAuliffe, one of the Clintons’ strongest supporters for decades, can be expected to use the full force of the governorship to try to swing the state for Hillary Clinton. DC Republicans, who profess to be concerned about winning elections in 2014 and 2016, all but ceded the state to the Democrats.
(c) The government shutdown did not cause the loss. According to CNN, Virginia voters were nearly evenly divided (48 percent to 45 percent) on who was to blame for the shutdown, Republicans or President Obama. Critically, according to exit polls conducted by CNN and Fox News, Cuccinelli won independents by 9 points.
The reason he lost was simple: Republicans did not show up on Election Day. Thirty-seven percent of the voters were Democrats; only 32 percent were Republicans. Had the D.C. Establishment not abandoned Cuccinelli, leaving him with no money and attacking him themselves, more Republicans would have shown up and Cuccinelli would likely have won.
(3) Obamacare is profoundly unpopular, its damage growing by the day. According to published news reports, more than 3.5 million Americans have already lost their health insurance because of Obamacare—despite the President’s promise that “if you like your plan, you can keep it.” Exit polls show 54 percent of Virginia voters disapprove of the President’s job performance.
Democrats have every reason to be concerned come 2014.