Ken Cuccinelli is a friend and I am sorry he lost.
In 2009, the Republican National Committee spent $9 million to win Virginia by a big margin. For the past 48 hours, the party bosses have been screaming to everyone about how much money they poured in this time in Virginia. We've had a few diarists at RedState document it and suck it up as gospel truth that the RNC did all it could this time.
The RNC spent $9 million in 2009 to win and spent $3 million this time, pulling money out of Virginia, to lose by a hair. The RNC truly screwed up in Virginia this time and no amount of spinning can distract from that screw up. It was Election Day itself when someone finally noticed the 3rd party candidate, Sarvis, had been funded by a major Obama donor. Election Day the GOP finally notices this!
Cuccinelli had all the insiders aligned against him. He was the outsider. The gays hated him, the Chamber of Commerce hated him, the kid killers hated him, the GOP establishment hated him — all the insiders hated Cuccinelli and his campaign made the strategic blunder to try to work their way inside instead of dancing with the folks who got him to the dance. The campaign manager was fired too late and the campaign fell behind by double digits. Compounding that, the Democrats massively outspent him, Governor McDonnell is involved in a scandal, and the GOP voted to raise taxes with Cuccinelli struggling to distance himself from both.
The Obama Machine took advantage of all of this and went into high gear. They intended to deliver the state for McAuliffe decisively.
Then something happened.
We call it Obamacare. As stories about Obamacare grew, Cuccinelli's deficit in the polls started shrinking. He lost last night in a race everyone, myself included, expected to be a blowout for Terry McAuliffe. Obamacare poisoned McAuliffe's campaign at the end. Reporters widely noted the President did not mention Obamacare went he went into Virginia to campaign for McAuliffe.
Liberals, last night, began spinning quickly that McAuliffe's victory proves Obamacare is not a drag. He went from a double digit lead to a race too close to call for several hours after the polls closed. The GOP kept the Virginia House. Obamacare continues to be a millstone around the Democrats' neck.
The GOP will take the lesson from Virginia that if they aren't suddenly socially liberal they're going to lose nationwide. Instead, they should pay attention to how quickly the polling gap closed once Cuccinelli turned the race into a referendum on Obamacare. And they should also note that being pro-life in Virginia was not what did in Ken Cuccinelli. McAuliffe tried to mobilize his whole base with a "war on women" strategy and nearly lost once Cuccinelli attacked Obamacare head on. The war on women got trumped at the end by Obamacare.
Oh, by the way, it is worth noting that with all the exit polls examined, Virginians split on who to blame for the government shutdown. 47% blamed the GOP and 46% blamed the Democrats. The shutdown too seems like it was not what did in Cuccinelli.
I'm sorry he lost. He would have been a great Governor of Virginia. But his decision, at the end, to make the race about Obamacare and see the McAuliffe lead collapse should be a key takeaway for the GOP.
As for Governor Christie in New Jersey, he should be congratulated. At the same time, multiple sources confirm he refused to go campaign with Ken Cuccinelli in Northern Virginia. His race was not in doubt at the time, but still he refused. Chris Christie had his own race to run and cannot be blamed for Cuccinelli's loss, but it does give rise to further concerns from conservatives about Christie. As the media heralds him as the only one who can save the GOP in 2016, we and he should remember the media was pretty excited about John Huntsman last time.