Mark October 13th on your calendar as the day the Republican dam broke. In this case, the dam was holding back the angst, disappointment, dismay and anger over the Cuccinelli campaign as it appears headed for defeat in November. The Washington Post was there to watch the carnage begin. First up, Tom Davis:
“It’s a party that is disunited, in flux, in transition and defeated,” said Thomas M. Davis, the former Republican congressman. “We have nominated a ticket that Virginians don’t want to buy.”
Next on the roster, Cory Stewart:
“I wish I was more optimistic — I’m a strong supporter of Ken — but it does not look very good for us out there,” said Cory Stewart, Republican chair of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. “The environment for Republicans is toxic.”
And there are a few others quoted along the way, but the real meat comes from our own Shaun Kenney:
“People were feeling pretty good,” said Shaun Kenney, the former communications director for the state GOP and now a contributor to Bearing Drift, a conservative blog. Referring to the feeling then, he said: “We got the candidate who won’t back down. We’re going to have an honest, clear policy debate. We’re going to argue the merits, and we’re going to win.”
“Instead, it devolved into the precise opposite,” he said. Cuccinelli’s platform, he said, consisted of: “ ‘McAuliffe is a sleazebag and, oh, by the way, did we mention that McAuliffe is a sleazebag?’ That’s not enough. Ken needs a big idea, and he needs it yesterday.”
Yet Kenney does not agree with those Republicans who see Cuccinelli as too conservative for purple Virginia. Rather, he said, Cuccinelli has been constrained at a moment when standing tall for his long-held principles would have served him well.
Cuccinelli’s campaign “won’t let Ken be Ken,” Kenney said. He noted Cuccinelli’s decision not to appear with Sen.Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) at a recent dinner in Richmond.
“The base wanted to see him link arms with Cruz,” Kenney said. “At some point you dance with the one who brung you. You stay true to your friends.”
Chris LaCivita, the Cuccinelli campaign’s top consultant, will have none of it:
…Chris LaCivita, a senior Cuccinelli strategist, said, “It’s uncommon but not unheard of for what I consider to be poseurs to attack a campaign before it’s over.”
“It ain’t over yet,” he said. “We won’t concede, and shame on those who do.”
The spirit is admirable and yes, one should never concede defeat, especially before the votes are cast.
But even the bravest faces cannot mask the cold fact that Cuccinelli has not lead in a single poll since early July.
Is the race still volatile? To a degree it is. A soft Sarvis vote, combined with the polling data that has consistently shown voters dislike both major party candidates, indicates there is still some wiggle room in the final numbers.
Does Cuccinelli still have the ability to mount a charge? He has in the past. But it all depends upon energy. Ken has always had it. The Virginia electorate, though, doesn’t seem to have the same spark.