Six Points to Ponder after Election DayPolitics

Nearly crashing into two deer on my way back home last night from Charlottesville quickly clarified a few things for me about the race and the results:

1. Most of the polls in this race were utterly useless at the end. Maybe it was the presence of a third-party candidate, or perhaps it was something deeper. No matter. The polls showing this was a margin of error race were the best ones out there…and that includes Bearing Drift’s poll in September.

2. Obamacare is toxic for Democrats. As the stories continue to mount about people losing their coverage, it only becomes more so. My writing partner Paul Goldman explained it this way (interestingly enough, on Halloween):

Fact: Unless something unexpected happens, Obamacare will be a LOSING SOUNDBITE ISSUE through election day next Tuesday.

Yep, it was — such a big loser that it nearly cut The Macker’s legs, and the millions he spent on attack ads, out from under him. Which brings up the next item…

3. McAuliffe’s parade of Democratic luminaries was a HUGE risk that almost cost him the election. Given that his own substantial negatives, and the nastiness of his campaign, McAuliffe almost had no choice but to bring in the Clintons and the President to buoy his base. But when you’re spending time and money trying to motivate your base voters late in the campaign, you’re losing (a lesson that applies to Cuccinelli, too).

4. No government shutdown could have meant that Cuccinelli wins. Others will disagree with this. But during the weeks the federal government was partially idled, that was the only story. The horrendous Obamacare debut took a back seat. Had the national parties not been playing their game of chicken, with Virginia getting plucked, the Cuccinelli campaign gets to start hammering Obamacare much earlier and with much greater force. Or so one would hope. As Shaun wrote, there’s no reason to expect, given its past messaging bungles, that the Cuccinelli campaign would have pushed as hard in early October on Obamacare as they did in the final days. Take away the shutdown, though, and the possibility is there.

5. Mark Warner is in danger. Yes he is. Virtually no one will agree with me on this point. Warner is too popular, too pragmatic and just too nimble to be caught by any surprises. And those folks would be right, save for this video (the embedding has been disabled since I first posted it…nice).

“I’m not going to support a healthcare reform plan that’s going to take away the healthcare you’ve got right now or a healthcare plan that you like.”

He voted for it. People are losing their plans. Mark Warner owns Obamacare — free and clear, warts and all.

6. Lastly, the circular firing squads will be out in force on the GOP side. I’m sure that among the targets will be anyone who voted for Robert Sarvis, the RNC, the “establishment” and any number of other hobgoblins.

Do changes need to be made in the GOP apparatus? Sure. But never forget that politics is a game of addition and Republicans need to find a way to expand both their reach and their warchest. And along with that comes a bit of a history lesson. The great Barnie Day explained it this way:

Candidates are forever blathering on about the “future,” as in “the future of our children” and similar clap-trap, knowing all the time that the future is myth in politics, that the electorate-and the electorate is this middle 40 percent–always, always, always votes the past, the immediate past, and how it relates to their individual issues.

If they feel good about the immediate past, they vote to stay the course and choose Door Number 1. If they don’t feel good about it, they vote for change and choose Door Number 2. All the Big Ideas are behind Door Number 3. Few people wander there.

Terry McAuliffe, if he is capable, may have learned this lesson — we shall see. Mark Warner had best take it to heart. And the GOP should tattoo it to their foreheads.

Oh and one more thing: deer are an unmitigated menace. Bambi delenda est.

  • David A.

    I would have added:

    7. Patience is a virtue. If Cuccinelli waited, and endorsed Bolling for governor, he probably would have been re-elected to the AG position. Bolling would have defeated TMac. Not going to get into how horrendous a candidate E.W. was, but let’s just say Pete Snyder was the nominee. I’ve got a feeling, Republicans could have had another clean sweep on their hands last night. In 3 yrs, Cuccinelli announces his candidacy for gov. and all is good.

    Unlike now where we’ve lost the top two offices and are praying to god that Obenshain pulls this one out.

    • nmill005

      I have to agree, Bolling would have been making an acceptance speech last night. The Tea Party is dead in VA.

      • Michael Polito

        What evidence is there for this? Bolling did worse than Cuccinelli statewide in 2009.

        • DJRippert

          In 2009 Cuccinelli had not yet proven himself a right wing extremist. He had not yet alienated women in a wholesale fashion. While Bolling and McDonnell turned somewhat toward center from 2009 – 2013 Cuccinelli tacked hard right.

          Independent voters would have supported Bolling by 4:1 over Cuccinelli in my opinion.

          • Janine Woods

            I am an independent voter, and I would have chosen Bolling over Cuccinelli. My husband would have too.

          • Chris

            Please. Dems have been using “right-wing extremist” on Ken since 2003.

        • David A.

          Because the democrats would have had a much tougher argument to make against Bolling. Cuccinelli’s positions and record on social issues allowed Democrats to paint him as intolerant and anti-woman.

          • Chris

            Ken and Bollings views on social issues are indistiguishable, go compare their state senate voting records.

          • David A.

            A record is one thing, but what a candidate says is another. Independents/swing voters matter. Cuccinelli is viewed as a polarizing candidate who is very conservative. I’m a conservative Republican and I believe that. Many folks had this opinion prior to the gov. race. Bolling on the other hand did not. What I was saying it would have been much tougher for Democrats to push these voters into thinking the same thing about Bolling as they already did about Cuccinelli. Instead of having to create this mindset about Bolling, the Democrats only had to remind voters of it with Cuccinelli.

          • Chris

            it would have been exactly the same … Bolling, despite his recent transformation … has a history of pretty hot rhetoric and $15 million dollars would have certainly found its mark

          • David A.

            You’re missing the point. The voters that matter most do not view Bolling and Cuccinelli the same way. They have established opinions about Cuccinelli and view him as very/ultra conservative. They do not have the same established opinions about Bolling. Also, you would have seen much more money spent by outside GOP groups had Bolling been the nominee.

          • nmill005

            David is exactly right. Perception is all that matters here. Bolling, for whatever reason is viewed as likable. Cooch is viewed as about unlikable as you can get.

          • DJRippert

            Of course. Cuccinelli spent four years as AG burnishing his bona fides as wing nut. Bolling spent those same four years demonstrating an ability to work across the aisle. Hell, he even refused to support that ill conceived palace coup over redistricting the Senate districts while a Democratic Senator was attending a Martin Luther King Day celebration.

            And repeat this ten times – Bill Bolling is not scandal ridden. He could have challenged McAuliffe’s ethics from a position of strength, not Star Scientific tainted weakness.

          • Chris

            Bolling was only considered “moderate” after he backstabbed Ken for his thirty peices of silver. If Bolling and Ken had run against each other in either a primary or convention, it would have been a sprint to the base. This whole Bolling is more well-liked meme has only come to pass AFTER he bailed and backstabbed us. The whole reason people think he’s a moderate is because he endorsed McAuliffe (not officially of course). This is revisionist history at best.

          • DJRippert

            No wonder the RPV is a disaster. You convened a convention that was run like the Cantina Scene from Star Wars. Two thirds of the delegates left before the crucial, final ballots were taken. Candidates openly lied about who was supporting them and other candidates had to walk around the place denying that they supported the other guy.

            In the end, a tiny few nominated two unelectable candidates.

            Now, you try to pretend there was no problem with these nominees.

            Really?

          • DJRippert

            Of course that’s right!

          • Chris

            Huh? I never said there were no problems with these candidates, I said that the idea that Bolling-as-moderate-electable is a fiction entirely created AFTER he turned heel on Cuccinelli. If he had run as a standard-fare Republican he likely would have met the same fate because his voting recard is almost indistiguishable from Cuccinellis.

            As for the convention, “I” did not convene anything. A certainly this comes up mostly for EW, but lets not pretend there were some super-stud candidates in the field that EW denied us. Nobody who ran for LG would have won, IMO. I think Snyder and Stimpson were the two best candidates, but Snyder was running around with signs taht said “BBQ …” not sure I took him seriously after that.

          • DJRippert

            Would Bolling have gotten 3% more votes? Please! Of course he would have won. Would Republicans have defected from Bolling like he had a communicable disease? Please! Of course not. Did Bolling have his hands buried in Jonnie Williams’ pockets? Of course not!

            You guys nominated a candidate that couldn’t beat a guy who had never held elected office and had a huge “enthusiasm gap” within his own party. A guy who badly lost his party’s nomination in 2009 to a another guy who got crushed in the general election. I can’t think of a governor’s election in the last 50 years where McAuliffe would have had a chance except this one. Why? Because he ran against Ken Cuccinelli.

            Time to get out of denial mode. Cuccinelli and Jackson? Are you freakin’ kidding me?

          • Michael Polito

            They did the same thing in 2009 (we all remember the M.A. thesis episode), but it didn’t work then.

          • David A.

            He wasn’t on the top of the ticket!

          • DJRippert

            Exactly. They would have tried to make the argument and they would have failed. Remember, this election was against Terry McAuliffe not John F Kennedy.

      • Socialism: Organized Evil

        Wishful thinking. The Tea Party will adapt and grow even stronger.

        • nmill005

          …because they have done such a good job of that since 2010.

          • Socialism: Organized Evil

            It’s grown much stronger since 2010 and now is the time to learn lessons from 2012 and 2013 and adapt accordingly.

            The great advantage is that the philosophy of the Tea Party is legitimate while the ideology of liberalism is juvenile nonsense.

            The ideology of liberalism is fundamentally unserious.

        • Janine Woods

          Exactly how will this happen?

          • Socialism: Organized Evil

            By continuing to expose the juvenile nonsense that is the ideology of liberalism.

            We live in serious times and the ideology of liberalism is fundamentally unserious.

          • Janine Woods

            Let me get this straight. You are saying that the Tea Party is going to win hearts and minds(votes) by calling other folks juvenile nonsense? Seriously, how will the Tea Party grow and become stronger?

          • Socialism: Organized Evil

            The ideology of today’s liberalism is fundamentally unserious.

            The world knows it. Those of us with conservative tendencies know it. The last to know, as usual, are those who proclaim themselves to be “liberals”.

          • Janine Woods

            SOE, may I ask how old you are? You answered my question with a general global statement not backed by any facts, stats or referencing any report or study. You never answered my question. How will the Tea Party grow and become stronger?

          • Socialism: Organized Evil

            If you’re unable to connect the dots between the fundamentally unserious nature of today’s liberalism and its vulnerabilities to a serious, systematic defense of the ideas and institutions of Western civilization, then that’s your problem I suppose.

            The fact that today’s liberalism is fundamentally unserious is clearly demonstrated on the global stage where Hussein Obama is not taken seriously.

          • Janine Woods

            It’s not a matter of any ability to connect dots. You are not backing up your opinion with any evidence. You also have not answered my question. How will the Tea Party grow and become stronger?

          • Socialism: Organized Evil

            Sure it is – it’s called logic.

            The ideology of liberalism is an ideology who two core issues are homosexual sodomy and baby murder.

            Furthermore, liberalism is an ideology – like its marxist ancestors – that can be completely discredited with a serious, systematic, and persistent defense of Western civilization.

          • Janine Woods

            How will the Tea Party grow and get stronger?

          • Socialism: Organized Evil

            By offering a serious, systematic, and persistent defense of the ideas and institutions of Western civilization that the ideology of liberalism opposes.

            The ideology of liberalism, with its homosexual sodomy and baby-murder obsessions, will surrender quite easily when subjected to a serious, sustained, and systematic de-construction.

            The defense of Western civilization, from the primitive foreign superstitions of liberalism, is just beginning.

          • Janine Woods

            Really? If you are a true spokesman for the Tea Party, I can see why you keep losing elections. You are not going to win over hearts and minds, and more importantly, VOTES, by being cold and rigid. You don’t seem to have a true assessment of reality if you really think that any liberal will ever surrender, let alone easily. You don’t seem to understand that people are indoctrinated at every stage of education. Even preschoolers are told not to offend anyone and they must be politically correct at all cost. Kids are not allowed to be kids and just have fun anymore.

            I’m not sure you really understand the Tea Party. TEA stands for Taxed Enough Already. No wonder the Tea Party has gotten such a reputation of hate after reading your rants. I’ve never heard anyone in the Tea Party speak about others like you do.

            If the Tea Party is going to warm up to other voters, it needs to appeal and relate to people on a personal level. It needs to get people thinking about how issues and policies will impact them in their homes and families.

            Remember, honey is more appealing than vinegar. People want to know that someone cares about them and what matters to them. Nobody wants a sermon or lecture.

            May the Force be with the TEA Party!

          • Socialism: Organized Evil

            I’m a spokesman for the ideas and institutions of Western Civilization, not the Tea Party or any other political organization.

            The fact is – there’s no no material difference between the ideology of today’s liberalism and its marxist, socialist, and communist ancestors.

          • Janine Woods

            Thank goodness you are not a spokesman for the TEA Party.

          • Socialism: Organized Evil

            The ideology of liberalism is a destructive ideology. It may take some time before folks start to realize that simple fact.

    • Michael Polito

      It is of course true that there should have been a primary- which Bolling would have lost. Why do you think Bolling would have won the general election? Pre-convention polls found that Bolling would do a point or two better than Cuccinelli, but it was not as though he led by 10 points while Cuccinelli trailed by 10 points. The problems here were (1) not holding a primary; (2) the shutdown; (3) McDonnell’s problems; (4) a massive money gap, and, relatedly, (5) the lack of a consistent reply to the attacks.

      Of course, Bolling sure did not want to support the nominee once he was chosen. He certainly got what he wanted.

      • DJRippert

        Lots of Republicans refused to support Cuccinelli. Bolling was hardly alone.

        • Michael Polito

          Well, I guess they got what they wanted. It is pretty absurd to demand loyalty and then not reciprocate when you don’t get the nominee you want. How can a party function with people like that?

      • David A.

        Sorry, but I disagree with you. I find it very hard to believe that Cuccinelli would have defeated Bolling in a primary. Why do you think the Tea Party/conservatives pushed for the Convention? At the time, most of McDonnell’s ethics issues weren’t on the table yet. Bolling would have had the majority of endorsements from the governor on down, including all major newspapers. While that doesn’t necessarily translate into votes, I still believe Bolling would have won. But what I am saying is that Bolling shouldn’t have been challenged for the #1 spot. The GOP should have rallied around him. The only “true” primary that should have taken place was at the lt. gov. level.

        • Michael Polito

          Cuccinelli led handily in every primary poll between them. I agree of course that there should have been a primary, but I think they wanted to avoid an expensive and nasty fight even though they thought they would win. I may have supported Bolling if there was a primary, but Bolling’s behavior after he did not win the nomination was inexcusable. To act like his effective endorsement of McAuliffe didn’t matter is absurd. He was definitely trying to prove himself right about Cuccinelli being ‘unelectable.’

    • Janine Woods

      Amen! I’d like to add that there should have been a primary. Also, where was the RNC for the last month? This is why I am not a Republican. They eat their own.

      • David A.

        The RNC was involved to the tune of $3 million. This was comparable to what they spent in NJ (a bluer state with a larger population) on Christie. The only reason folks are dragging the RNC through the mud right now is the amount spent in 2009 ($9 million). Well, guess who was heading up the RNC then – Michael Steele. He spent an unnecessary amount then and that amount should be compared to what the RNC spent in this race.

    • DJRippert

      You guys have to figure out some way to get Snyder in the game. The RPV bench appears very shallow.

      • Janine Woods

        At first I supported Pete Snyder until I met him in person and saw him speak. He seemed to be too polished and too scripted. He did not seem natural. He was like a car salesman.

  • Chris

    Any word on what R will run for Northam’s state senate seat? Thelma Drake perhaps?

    • nmill005

      We can only hope not.

    • http://bearingdrift.com/ J.R. Hoeft

      Wayne Coleman.

  • Wally Erb

    All this “Monday morning quarterbacking” is completely moot. There is no “lessons learned” in politics other than possibly having as much money as possible in your war chest. Put simply, there issues of the wallet (fiscal) and issues of the heart (social). This time around the social issues won out.

    • DJRippert

      I’m not so sure about that. Monday morning quarterbacking? Maybe not? Monday morning coaching? Oh yes. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”

      • Wally Erb

        Oy vey. Such a shanda! I’m fertummelt because of all this hakn a tchynik.

    • Michael Polito

      The ‘social issues’ didn’t seem to hurt the GOP’s House of Delegates majority (which actually passed all the abortion restrictions, etc).

      • Wally Erb

        Michael, GOP house and even Senate districts are more a reflection of the past redistricting rather than issues. For example, Virginia Beach Senate Districts were tightened up to favor Republicans by passing Democratic leaning precincts in the 7th and 8th to the 6th (City of Norfolk (part), City of Virginia Beach (part) to Accomack County, Mathews County, Northampton County, City of Norfolk (part), City of Virginia Beach (part). Nick Rerras (R) was consequently unseated after his second term by Ralph Northam (D). A bit of irony: would Northam been Lt. Governor -elect had it not been for that redistricting?

  • JayD

    Mr. L, If almost nailing Bambi brings clarity – I’m all for that! Warner can be beat, but he won’t be unseated by movement politics or candidates lugging social-issue baggage. Furthermore (to paraphrase Barnie), “Against Obamacare” does not a Big Idea make.

    We need something more. We need an authentically great candidate. We need a statesman that can inspire and lead.

    We need a Bert Mizusawa.

    • David A.

      Statesman equals Sen. John Warner. Statesman does not equal Bert Mizusawa.

      • JayD

        Guess this comment indicates Rigell wants dibs on tango w/ Warner. Scott has my respect also. Suggestion, save the trash talk for if and when?

  • catholicgal

    This is what I learned from the election (although I already knew this before the election). The RNC does not want a conservative candidate. They were absent, not just for a month, but for the entire thing. The “Republicans” who say that all of those pesky constitutional conservatives are dividing the party are being very hypocritical. Where were all of those Republicans? Not voting for Ken. They were too busy trashing him along with the Democrats. Karl Rove is a prime example. I know many many conservative voters who voted for Romney even though they thought he was a typical northeastern liberal. We all know this, and this is why you will now see what it is like when conservatives will not hold their noses in the next presidential election. We will not vote for any more of the Chris Christies (Agenda 21 proponent) or Jeb Bushes. So, this means, no chance a Republican will get into the White House. I mean, what is the difference between the two parties anymore? They both don’t want to give up their deal and money making schemes they have with each other. The RNC, etc… are crony corporatists.

    All things considered – millions of dollars of ads for McAuliffe, an absent RNC and RPV at best, hostile toward Cooch at worst, 49 % of people on government assistance (and this doesn’t include the 30% + government workers in NOVA and the contractors that benefit from it), questionable “immigrant” voters in Arlington/Alexandria, etc…….. Ken didn’t do too bad. Exit polls finally showed that most of those Sarvis voters would have voted for Ken instead.

    Finally, and this being the most important one for me, our decline into an immoral morass is eating away at our Republic (yep, not a democracy). The fact that single women care more about being able to slaughter unborn babies than anything else really tells me that politics ain’t gonna save us at all. And it seems that many other people feel the same way as these “single women”, judging by the analysis. We need God’s mercy, and a change of heart. Otherwise all the speculation and “savior” candidates won’t amount to a hill of beans. I know that I will never vote for any candidate that espouses abortion or any other intrinsic evil that goes against my Catholic Faith. That includes any RINO that the RNC wants to con me into voting for.

    Trash this Catholic conservative at your leisure. It will never change my mind.

    • JayD

      Perhaps you’ll find relief from your frustration and anger in our new Pope’s Gospel message of compassion for everyone?
      “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” ~ Pope Francis

      • old guy

        The Church has always said hate the sin and love the sinner. Francis is making that front and center. But I do not hear the Church saying it is okay to have an Abortion (which I am against) they do say they let us help you heal if you had one.

        • Doug Brown

          Nor is Francis or the Church signing off on homosexuality, what he is saying is let’s talk about these issues without anger and recriminations in our hearts. A message Terry McAuliffe apparently missed as he slashed and trashed his fellow Catholic.

          • JayD

            Good reason why faith belongs in the church and not in politics.

        • JayD

          Not from the Church or scripture. It’s a modern cliche (like “out of sight; out of mind”). Scripture actually teaches the opposite: God simply loves sinners. Period. No distinctions or caveats follow.

          Hear it spouted quiet a lot today. Maybe to relieve good people of the guilt one should feel tuning out Christ’s most important teaching ~ Love our neighbors no less than we love ourselves and desire for them all the good things we desire for ourselves.

          Don’t want to get into a scripture war with anyone (not qualified), but this one bugs me as much as, “we live in a democracy”.

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