LESSONS FROM THE 2013 GOVERNOR’S RACE IN VIRGINIA

LESSONS FROM THE 2013 GOVERNOR’S RACE IN VIRGINIA

by Michael Dennin

On November 5th, 2013 former Democrat Terry McAuliffe defeated Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia governor’s race by a mere 3 percentage points. Since Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis siphoned off enough Republican and Democratic voters to finish with 6% (a record high for a third-party gubernatorial candidate in Virginia), McAuliffe won with less than 50% of the vote.

There are a few lessons conservative activists and candidates can glean from the election. Some of them are positive and some of them are negative. Here is a list of several of the most prominent lessons they can take with them heading into the 2014 elections and beyond:

1) ObamaCare is hurting Democrats.

Going into the final weekend before the election, McAuliffe had a substantial lead over Cuccinelli that was somewhere in the neighborhood of 8%. However, when news of the mass cancelation of health insurance plans across the country broke out and President Obama’s lies about Americans being able to keep their doctors and health care plans were exposed, Cuccinelli finally started linking McAuliffe to ObamaCare. The reason Cuccinelli’s 11th hour attack was relevant and significant in Virginia is because the current Republican governor refused to impose additional burdens on Virginia taxpayers by expanding Medicaid and opening and financing a state ObamaCare exchange. Once Cuccinelli belatedly started linking McAuliffe to ObamaCare and what it could cost Virginians, the Democrat’s lead instantly began evaporating. Why Cuccinelli waited so long is a mystery, and this proved to be a critical mistake – had he attacked McAuliffe earlier there’s a good chance he would have overtaken him by election day.

Consistent with McAuliffe’s decline in the polls over ObamaCare, one need look no further than the president’s plummeting approval and likability ratings to see that his Unaffordable Care Act is hurting Democrats. Despite the herculean efforts of his Leftist co-travelers in the mainstream media, Obama’s approval rating dropped below 40% by November 5th. By December, a CNN poll revealed that in a generic congressional vote, 49% of Americans indicated that they would vote Republican while 47% indicated they would vote Democrat. This represented a 10 percentage point swing within one month. The remarkable free-fall of Obama and the Democrats is indisputable evidence that ObamaCare has become a major political liability for Democrats, which also explains why the president keeps delaying the most harmful parts of the law until after the 2014 elections.

2) Make ObamaCare the central issue of the campaign and make it the central issue from start to finish.

Another lesson from the election and how ObamaCare is hurting Democrats is that Republicans must make ObamaCare the central issue of the campaign and make it the central issue from the start. Heading into the final week of the governor’s race, Cuccinelli was getting pummeled for his highly unpopular positions on abortion, which he opposes even in cases of rape and incest, but when he started attacking McAuliffe on ObamaCare he was suddenly able to neutralize his own greatest political vulnerability while exploiting that of his opponent. Had Cuccinelli dictated the battle to his opponent from the start and maintained the initiative till the end, he likely would have won. The failure to do so until it was too little too late proved to be a fatal mistake.

No doubt, Democrats and their allies in the media will do everything they can to shift attention away from ObamaCare in the upcoming year, and this strategy has already begun. The initial focus on the cancellation of millions of Americans’ health care plans – now standing at 5.9 million – has been shoved down the memory hole since the president unilaterally declared that he was postponing the requirements that caused people to lose the HC plans that they were promised they could keep until after the 2014 mid-term elections. Suddenly, there was no more mention of the president and Democrats’ lies and how they had no intention of making good on their promise to let Americans to keep their health care plans if they liked them, as if breaking their promise next year was somehow more acceptable to the public than breaking it this year. Despite all of Obama’s idle talk about his willingness to fix what’s wrong with ObamaCare, no one in the media has saw fit to ask the inconvenient question why the president has refused to fix his broken promise to the American people.

Republicans and conservatives need stay focused on this and all the other harmful aspects of ObamaCare in 2014 and stay on message while ignoring the Democrats’ attempts to change the subject. If they do so, there’s a good chance that Democrats will lose control of the Senate and set the stage for a full repeal of ObamaCare following the elections in 2016. Certainly, this will be later than many of us would wish, but better late than never.

3) Extremist positions against abortion are hurting Republicans in Virginia

This might not be a problem in some states, but opposition to abortion in all cases – rape, incest and when the life of the mother is in danger – is killing Republicans in statewide elections in Virginia. This opposition without exception paved the way for Democrats to win the presidential and senatorial elections in 2012 and the gubernatorial election in 2013. In all three races, Democrats incessantly pounded their Republican opponents over their “extremist” positions against abortion, and their fear-mongering was invariably successful in this purple battleground state where the Right and Left are evenly divided and the Center determines the outcome of elections for president, governor and the U.S. senate. Obviously, the GOP’s position is not playing well with the Center, which brings us to the question of how Republicans can solve this problem. There are two possible solutions – the first is to adopt the position of libertarian and pro-choice Republicans and completely abandon the party’s opposition to abortion. Since this is unlikely to sit well with social conservatives, the next alternative is a compromise that will maintain GOP opposition to abortion in principle and keep the government out of funding it with taxpayer dollars, while reasonably moderating their opposition to the procedure in extreme cases where the mother’s life is in danger or when she is the victim of rape and/or incest.

In addition to their opposition to abortion itself, Republicans are running into problems reconciling their conflicting ideological and policy positions vis a vis abortion with the public, and this strikes directly to the heart of the credibility of the Republican party. The first of the most notable examples involves the GOP’s position against abortion and its opposition to the provision of welfare payments to women who bring children into this world that they know they cannot support. The second involves the GOP’s pretense to being the party of limited government and individual freedom while advocating government interference in an individual’s control over their own reproductive decisions. Finally, Republicans have rightly and correctly opposed how ObamaCare strips Americans of individual control over their own bodies, but this opposition rings inconsistent and hypocritical in the face of the GOP’s willingness to strip Americans of individual control over their own bodies. While this is obvious to most people outside the GOP and many within it, this point doesn’t seem to be reaching a lot of Republicans, and this begs the question how many more elections does the GOP have to lose before the party gets the message?

4) Fielding compromised candidates and running weak campaigns are recipes for defeat

Looking back at the last gubernatorial, presidential and U.S. senate elections in Virginia, the Republican party fielded three weak and compromised candidates and all three of them lost what were very winnable elections. Beginning with the governor’s race, Ken Cuccinelli was damaged goods on account of a gift-giving scandal involving a wealthy Republican supporter’s donations that have drawn the attention of federal prosecutors. In the U.S. senate race, George Allen re-emerged from the political dead after losing his seat to Democrat Jim Webb following the infamous “macaca” incident where Allen hurled a racial epithet at a Democratic operative during a public event. To make matters worse, Allen was unpopular amongst fiscal conservatives on account of his association with the free-wheeling RINOs who spent taxpayer money like Democrats during George W. Bush’s administration. Finally, there was Mitt Romney, a liberal Republican who was fatally compromised by the enactment of his own version of ObamaCare in Massachusetts. Compounding his troubles, the mild-mannered Romney waged a weak campaign that fell far short of what was necessary to defeat a Chicago Alinskyite who ran one of the dirtiest campaigns in recent memory. Judging from these elections and the candidates who lost them, it is obvious that the Republican talent pool is terribly shallow in Virginia, and it appears that this problem is not confined to the Old Dominion. The GOP was poised to make substantial gains against Democrats in 2012, particularly in the Senate, but an array of weak, compromised candidates cost them this opportunity.

In addition to the personal and political problems associated with these failed Republican candidates, there is the equally critical problem of the weak campaigns that they waged against their Democratic opponents. Since 2008 it has become increasingly evident that Republicans don’t seem to understand who and what they are up against and what it takes to defeat the nihilistic neo-socialist “progressives” who are playing straight out of Saul Alinsky’s handbook Rules for Radicals. In war, the first rule is to understand your enemy, and the GOP establishment appears to be completely clueless in this respect. By now, they should have realized that they are up against a pack of radical zealots who are determined to fundamentally transform America and are willing to say and do anything to achieve that destructive end. Republicans have been masochistic fools to think they can play nice with “progressives”, so they are going to have to learn to play political hardball whether they like it or not. Consistent with this, they are going to have to start exposing the New Left’s “transformational” agenda, and most of all, they are going to have to stop being afraid to drop the S word (socialism) on their opponents. Republicans must speak openly and plainly, because “progressives” rarely speak openly and plainly about who they are and what their agenda is, and their comrades in the mainstream media will continue to do everything they can to conceal it from the American people. Neo-socialists know full well that their ideology will not stand up well to the harsh light of public scrutiny, which is why they have to present themselves as “progressives” and couch their extremist agenda in vague euphemisms such as “Change”.

5) Libertarians made historic gains in Virginia in 2013

Perhaps the biggest story of the 2013 gubernatorial race was the showing of Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis, who pulled in a record number of votes for a third party candidate without any media exposure and support. What was even more remarkable is that Sarvis attracted more Democratic voters than Republicans, and this result has been attributed largely to the rising number of young Americans who are abandoning the Left and embracing libertarianism. This is great news for the Right, and it may indicate that this is becoming a trend that is building on the momentum generated from the 2012 presidential campaigns of Ron Paul and Gary Johnson. What may add more momentum to this trend is the negative impact of ObamaCare on young people who are becoming increasingly aware of just how bad a deal this neo-socialist redistribution scheme is for them. As they become more disenchanted with this program and Big Government in general, the appeal of libertarianism is bound to grow. Libertarians would be wise to exploit this opportunity and build on their success.

6) Democrats and their donors spent almost twice as much money as Republicans and Libertarians

Despite their phony cries of poverty and paranoid ranting about the Koch brothers, Democrats outspent Republicans by a whopping $17 million ($38 million to $21 million) overall and by $4.7 million on TV advertisements in the Virginia governor’s race. One Democratic donor, California billionaire Thomas Steyer, reportedly spent $8 million to help McAulifffe get elected. Another billionaire, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, reportedly spent another $1.1 million in support of McAuliffe. In addition to the millions spent by out-of-state billionaires, labor unions also contributed $2.7 million to the Democratic cause in Virginia.

The superiority of the Left-wing money machine in the Virginia governor’s race is likely to spread nationwide in 2014. Big labor unions are pledging to spend $300 million dollars to unseat a handful of Republican governors while Steyer announced his plan to raise $100 million – $50 million out of his own pocket – to attack candidates who oppose the Left’s “climate change” agenda. No doubt, the Democratic party’s rich benefactors will also spend enormous amounts of money to maintain control of the U.S. Senate. Unless conservatives start putting their money where their mouths are, Democratic donors will outspend their Republican counterparts by a substantial margin in 2014.

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Posted February 25, 2014 by Candidus in Elections, Politics

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