McAuliffe Wins, But Virginia Is Still A Purpleish State

The race for Virginia Governor turned out to be much closer than many predicted, but that should not be a surprise.

Virginia Flag Map

Going into yesterday’s elections, all the polling seemed to indicate that Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe would coast to a fairly easy victory over Republican nominee, and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. As I’ve chronicled here at OTB for months, and especially since Labor Day, all of the polling was pointing toward a McAuliffe win between six and eight percentage point and, indeed, the final RealClearPolitics Average showed McAuliffe leading by nearly seven points when the votes for Libertarian Party nominee Robert Sarvis were factored in. As I noted in several of my posts last week, though, the final result in Virginia would depend largely on who turned out to vote. Traditionally, off year elections in Virginia have tended to be more favorable to Republicans than Presidential election years, even during the period from 1968 to 2004 when Republicans won the state at the Presidential level consistently. This has been especially true in the past twenty years or so, and accounts for election victories by such Republican victories as George Allen, Jim Gilmore, and, even in the wake of President Obama’s victory in 2008, Bob McDonnell just four years ago. So, the possibility always existed that the election results in the Commonwealth would be far closer than the polls were indicating, and that’s exactly what happened:

TYSONS CORNER, Va. — Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Democratic fund-raiser and ally of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, was elected governor of Virginia on Tuesday, narrowly defeating the state’s conservative attorney general, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, and confirming Virginia’s evolution as a state increasingly dominated politically by the Democratic-leaning Washington suburbs.

Mr. McAuliffe, 56, ran as a social liberal and an economic moderate focused on job creation. Mr. Cuccinelli, a Republican who was the first attorney general to sue over President Obama’s health care law, ran as a hard-line social conservative and aimed his campaign almost exclusively at the Tea Party wing of his party.

Still, despite substantially outraising Mr. Cuccinelli, $34.4 million to $19.7 million, Mr. McAuliffe won by a margin — just over two percentage points — that was smaller than some pre-election polls had suggested.

Mr. McAuliffe benefited from an electorate that was less white and less Republican than it was four years ago. He drew about as large a percentage of African-Americans as Mr. Obama did last year. Blacks accounted for one in five voters, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Research. Mr. Cuccinelli’s strong anti-abortion views also brought out opponents, with 20 percent of voters naming abortion as their top issue; Mr. McAuliffe overwhelmingly won their support. The top issue for voters was the economy, cited by 45 percent in exit polls.

In a victory speech here, Mr. McAuliffe thanked the “historic number of Republicans who crossed party lines to support me” and invoked a tradition of bipartisanship in Richmond, the capital. In a checklist of recent governors who had moved the economy forward, he included the incumbent, Bob McDonnell, a Republican.

“Over the next four years, most Democrats and Republicans in Virginia want to make Virginia a model for pragmatic leadership that is friendly to job creation,” Mr. McAuliffe said.

His tone was notably more conciliatory than that of Mr. Cuccinelli, who struck a defiant note at a rally in Richmond, interpreting the closeness of the race to a rejection of Mr. Obama’s health care law. “Despite being outspent by an unprecedented $15 million, this race came down to the wire because of Obamacare,” Mr. Cuccinelli said, adding, “We were lied to by our own government.”

That Mr. McAuliffe was elected in a onetime Republican stronghold while unapologetically supporting gun restrictions, same-sex marriage and abortion rights will no doubt be scrutinized by both parties, particularly by Republicans concerned about the appeal of the Tea Party in swing states and districts ahead of the 2014 midterm elections. And Mr. Cuccinelli’s defeat in a Southern state will no doubt be contrasted with the Republicans’ great success of the day, the dominating re-election of Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who appeals to swaths of Democrats. But the close result, after a race in which Mr. Cuccinelli was substantially outspent, could make it difficult to draw firm conclusions.

Mr. Cuccinelli, 45, whose passionate base seemed to give him an early edge in a race between two flawed candidates, rattled business-oriented Republicans. A surprising roster of the party’s establishment — including Will Sessoms, the mayor of the largest city, Virginia Beach — endorsed Mr. McAuliffe.

Mr. McAuliffe’s career as a wealthy business investor yielded many unflattering and, critics said, possibly unethical details. But he neutralized the issue by arguing that Mr. Cuccinelli’s social agenda, which included hostile comments about homosexuality, staunch opposition to abortion and an attempt to discredit a climate scientist at the University of Virginia, would give the state a retrograde image that would deter businesses from moving here.

A key issue was Mr. McAuliffe’s embrace of a roads bill championed and signed by Mr. McDonnell, which Mr. Cuccinelli opposed because it raised taxes. In rapidly growing Northern Virginia, snarled traffic is the chief concern of chambers of commerce and Mr. McAuliffe was able to portray himself as pro-business and bipartisan.

Although a majority of female voters chose Mr. McDonnell four years ago, Mr. Cuccinelli trailed Mr. McAuliffe among women by nearly 10 percentage points. Nearly seven in 10 unmarried women supported Mr. McAuliffe.

Both Planned Parenthood and the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group, poured money into the race. Abortion rights groups created graphic television ads linking the Republican ticket to a failed state bill in 2012 that would have required vaginal ultrasounds for women seeking abortions.

The McAuliffe campaign pounded on Mr. Cuccinelli’s support for failed “personhood” bills that could have banned some common forms of birth control, and for being one of only three attorneys general in the country to oppose the federal Violence Against Women Act.

Six months ago, the race seemed Mr. Cuccinelli’s to lose. He was a conservative of impeccable credentials and a national figure because of the lawsuit over the president’s health care law in 2010. Mr. McAuliffe had drawn an unserious self-portrait in his 2007 memoir, “What a Party!,” including a story about leaving his wife, Dorothy, in the car with their newborn child to duck into a Democratic fund-raiser.

Mr. McAuliffe’s previous bid for governor, in 2009, ended in a humiliating defeat in the primary after he was accused of being a carpetbagger. His effort to strengthen his business ties to Virginia through an electric car company, GreenTech, backfired when he set up production in Mississippi and news reports revealed the company was the target of federal investigators.

But Mr. Cuccinelli was unable to profit from the tarnishing of Mr. McAuliffe because the attorney general had his own problem with a political gifts scandal emanating from the governor. A benefactor of Mr. McDonnell’s who lavished him and his wife with a Rolex watch and other favors also gave Mr. Cuccinelli and his family vacations at a lake home.

Mr. Cuccinelli secured the Republican nomination in May by packing the state party with his supporters, who chose to skip a primary in favor of a nominating convention, ensuring a more ideological slate of candidates.

In the middle of the federal government shutdown, which hit hard in Virginia, with its many federal workers and its defense industry, Mr. Cuccinelli appeared at a family values rally with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, the architect of the shutdown. In exit polls, about a third of voters said the shutdown had affected someone in their household, and most of them voted for Mr. McAuliffe.

Mr. Cuccinelli spent the final weeks of the campaign barnstorming with national Tea Party stars. He appeared on election eve with the former presidential candidate Ron Paul, meant to call home votes from a third-party candidate, Robert Sarvis, a libertarian.

Meanwhile, with money pouring into Mr. McAuliffe’s campaign, thanks to his ties to major donors, including supporters of the Clintons, he set off an avalanche of negative ads. Mr. McAuliffe outspent his opponent by nearly 75 percent, and beginning in late summer drove up Mr. Cuccinelli’s unfavorable ratings, where they remained.

So, instead of a six to eight point victory, McAuliffe walked away with about a 2.5 point victory and, while a win is a win, the narrowness of the win tells us much about Virginia and what kind of state it is likely to be politically for many years to come. Taking a glance at the exit polls (PDF), for example, one finds that while McAuliffe won the female vote, he did so by a much smaller margin than polling had indicated he might, six points instead of the nearly 20 points that most recent polling was showing. In fact, Cuccinelli actually beat McAuliffe among white women by 54% to 38%. Additionally, McAuliffe and Libertarian Sarvis ended up pulling away a far smaller percentage of the self-identified Republican vote than polling had been indicating. Cuccinelli also managed to eke out a plurality among the 45% of voters who said that the economy was the most important issue to them in the election.

More importantly, though, there were indications in the election returns that public sentiment regarding the Affordable Care Act and the President’s job performance had an impact on the outcome in the Old Dominion:

Cuccinelli called the off-year election a referendum on Obamacare at every stop during the final days.

“Despite being outspent by an unprecedented $15 million, this race came down to the wire because of Obamacare,” Cuccinelli said in his concession speech Tuesday night.

When President Barack Obama crossed the Potomac for McAuliffe on Sunday, he glaringly avoided even mentioning his signature accomplishment — trying instead to link Cuccinelli with the federal government shutdown.

Exit polls show a majority of voters — 53 percent — opposed the law. Among them, 81 percent voted for Cuccinelli and 8 percent voted for Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis. McAuliffe won overwhelmingly among the 46 percent who support the health care overhaul.

Cuccinelli actually won independents by 9 percentage points, 47 percent to 38 percent, according to exit polls conducted for a group of media organizations. They made up about one-third of the electorate.

“Obamacare helped close the gap,” said Richmond-based strategist Chris Jankowski, the president of the Republican State Leadership Committee.

(…)

A 54 percent majority of those voting Tuesday disapproved of Obama’s job performance, according to the exit polling. But 30 percent of those who “somewhat disapproved” of Obama nonetheless voted for McAuliffe.

And despite the widespread criticism directed at Republicans for the government shutdown, an equal number of voters pinned the closure on Obama vs. congressional Republicans.

The president’s approval rating has slipped in the wake of the Obamacare fiasco and other scandals of his fifth year in office, and his trip to Virginia Sunday probably motivated some independents and Republicans to back Cuccinelli, but he still has deep appeal with the Democratic base.

On the other side of the coin, there are indications that the government shutdown and Cuccinelli’s publicly known opinion and record on social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage were a drag on his vote totals. McAuliffe overwhelmingly won among the slight plurality of voters who blamed the GOP for the government shutdown, as well as among the minority (about 1/3 of voters) who said that they or someone in their household was personally impacted by the  shutdown. Some 50% of those responding described Cuccinelli’s positions as being “too conservative” and, of those, McAuliffe won 73% of the vote. He also won handily among the roughly 60% who said that abortion should be “always” or “mostly” legal, and among the 60% of voters who said they opposed the Tea Party movement.

In other words, except for the fact that the gender gap was smaller than expected, the votes for both candidates went about where you would have expected them to go.

So, what happened, and why did the polls get this so wrong?

One factor you can rule out is a vastly more pro-Republican turnout than polls were predicting. According to the exit polls, the electorate was 37% Democratic, 32% Republican and 31% Independent. This isn’t all that different from most of the of D/R/I distributions that we were seeing in the polling and also weren’t entirely different from the 2012 exit polling, which had a 39/32/29 D/R/I. Perhaps more significantly for Cuccinelli, though, they were very different from the 2009 exit polling, which showed a 33/37/30 D/R/I distribution in the year that the GOP swept all three of the state’s top spots. So, McAuliffe managed to win, albeit narrowly, with roughly the same distribution by party that saw President Obama repeat his victory in the Old Dominion just last year. And it’s in that victory that I think the explanation for what really happened in Virginia last night lies.

Another factor that can be ruled out is raw turnout since there were, narrowly, more votes case in 2013 than there were in 2009. According to the preliminary vote totals, there were some 234,000 more votes cast yesterday than were cast in 2009 despite the fact that some pundits had been predicting lower turnout based on public disdain for the two main party candidates.

The down ballot races also don’t seem to have had much of an impact on the Governor’s race. In the Lt. Governor’s race, State Senator Ralph Northam defeated E.W. Jackson Jr. quite handily by margins matching those we’d seen in recent polling. In the Attorney General’s race, meanwhile, the race turned out to be even closer than the pre-election polls predicted. As I write this, Democrat Mark Herring leads Republican Mark Obenshain in that race by some 541 votes in an election that seems likely to be head to a recount.

Instead of looking for differences between now and 2012, though, it may make more sense to see this year’s results as entirely consistent with what seems to be becoming the status quo in the Old Dominion.

While the passage of just a year’s time may cloud memory, it’s worth remembering that President Obama won Virginia by less than four percentage points, this despite the fact that some pre-election polling had shown him winning the state by a larger margin. In 2008, he had won the state by more than seven points only to see Republicans go on to significant wins in elections in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Viewed in that context, McAuliffe’s roughly two point victory perhaps isn’t quite as puzzling, and it seems clear in hindsight that the polls were, for some reason, overestimating the level of support  Had the GOP nominated a less controversial nominee who ran a more competent campaign than Cuccinelli did, it’s quite possible that they would have been able to reverse these results just enough to pull off a win.

Cuccinelli supporters will also argue that his campaign was hobble by two other factors. First of all, it’s demonstrably true that segments of the old line GOP establishment in Virginia either sat this race out or backed McAuliffe, in some cases openly. To some degree, this was due to aversion to Cuccinelli’s positions on social issues, but my impression is that, to a large degree, it was a reaction to the infighting that had occurred within the party that had occurred leading up to 2013. It was that infighting that led Lt. Governor Bill Bolling to drop out of the race for Governor after Cuccinelli supporters manipulated the process to eliminate the statewide primary in favor of a convention where everyone knew that Bolling would be highly disfavored by what was likely to be a very pro-Cuccinelli convention crowd. The animosity between the two men was so bad that, at one point, Bolling was rather obviously openly considering running as an Independent. Second, Cucccinelli supporters will argue that the presence of Robert Sarvis on the ballot and the roughly 7% of the vote he received deprived Cuccinelli of the votes that would have put him in office. The evidence for this, however, appears thin considering that pre-election polling showed that a majority of Sarvis voters would vote or McAuliffe if Sarvis were not on the ballot. Nonetheless, it’s true that Cuccinelli did have the same united coalition that McDonnell did in 2009, but that’s something that ought to be blamed on the candidate, not the GOP establishment or people who voted for Sarvis.

In the end, the explanation for what happened seems to me to be fairly simple, Virginia remains a purple, and very competitive, state that is likely to be hotly contested by both parties for years to come.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2013, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. grumpy realist says:

    I think we can safely predict that the Tea Party side will state that the only reason that Cuccinelli didn’t win was because he wasn’t conservative enough and because he was stabbed in the back by those evil RINOs who didn’t support him.

    Continue to create those circular firing squads, boys….

    (I think it’s hard for men to understand exactly how much of an infringement on women’s liberty the anti-choice side comes off as. Assume that you, at any time, could be suddenly kidnapped off the street and forced to donate a kidney “because you’re saving a life” and you might start to understand why some of us are so adamantly pro-choice.)




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  2. Mikey says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I think we can safely predict that the Tea Party side will state that the only reason that Cuccinelli didn’t win was because he wasn’t conservative enough and because he was stabbed in the back by those evil RINOs who didn’t support him.

    I haven’t heard any Virginia Republicans saying he wasn’t conservative enough. Most of what I’m hearing this morning is “It’s Sarvis’ fault” and “the national GOP didn’t fund Cuccinelli enough.”




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  3. Scott says:

    I read one statistic that had women at 60% pro-choice. They may have been a factor.

    I do, however, accept that the recent turmoil over Obamacare may have contributed to the tightening of the race. If that is true, then in the long run, that is beneficial to the Democrats because I also believe that the Obamacare issues will work themselves out and become a net positive in the long run.




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  4. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Let’s see… despite outspending Cuccinelli almost 2-1, McAuliffe squeaks out a 2-percent victory… and the Democrat-backed libertarian gets almost 7%.

    Congratulations are in order, Doug. You and your colleagues here did all you could to help Cuccinelli lose, and he lost. Break open the champagne. You won.




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  5. @Jenos Idanian #13:

    See that’s what you don’t get, and why I didn’t address any of your previous comments about this race.

    It wasn’t my job, or intention, to be an advocate for any of these candidates. I stated numerous times in both posts and comment threads that I thought both Cuccinelli and McAuliffe were horrible candidates, and in many ways the outcome of the race reflects that. A better Republican, or Democrat, would have arguably done a lot better than either of these losers did.

    Quite honestly, if you were looking for a blogger who spent the election cycle writing posts that were nothing but campaign propaganda for Cuccinelli then you were looking in the wrong place, because that’s not what I do.




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  6. C. Clavin says:

    So Cooch called it a referendum on Obamacare…and Obamacare won.
    Again.
    So when can we stop being subjected to the incessant whining?




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  7. @C. Clavin:

    The exit polling showed a majority of voters opposed the PPACA, actually.

    Although I question how much that actually mattered in terms of the outcome.




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  8. Mu says:

    As long as the right wing of the GOP can’t get the difference between “having socially conservative values” and “enforcing said values on everybody” they’re doomed to repeat this over and over. The more you try to motivate your followers on the Christian right with “we’ll outlaw this and that and whatnot” the more they are going to alienate the libertarian wing. It doesn’t help to demonize Obamacare as the end of health care choice if you do the same, just from a religious angle. Cuccinelli is a prime example of that group that doesn’t get it, and to top it of he also managed to alienate the third wing, the pro-business people, which hurt his money raising ability. You can only tell so many people you don’t need their votes before you do.




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  9. James Joyner says:

    Presumably, a significant reason for McAuliffe getting fewer Republican votes than the polling showed is that these people, like myself, were not motivated to show up. Had the polls shown this to be a 2.5% race, I might have felt obligated to hold my nose and vote for McAuliffe. Since he looked to win comfortably and I don’t like him, though, I instead went for a run.




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  10. Gromitt Gunn says:

    More of a “food for thought” question than anything else, but at what point do we collectively stop thinking of Virginia as part of the South? The heavily populated areas in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads no longer have much of a “Southern” feel to them. I understand that the interior of the state is still part of the South, but overall it seems like the future of the Virginia is tied to Hampton Roads and NoVa.

    I ask this as someone whose adopted home for the past decade is Texas. Yes, Texas was a part of the Confederacy, but today I would not consider my state to be part of the South. I just consider it Texas. East Texas (I’d say the portion roughly within 100 miles of Louisiana) is culturally Southern, and one can argue that Houston is a Southern city, but the rest of the State is not.

    I guess I wonder “At what point does Virginia stop be part of the South, and just start being Virginia?”




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  11. C. Clavin says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    So apparently you’re not done whining.




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  12. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner: I hope you and Doug both are chastened by the close outcome and will in future do your civic duty. Figure out which realistic candidate is the lesser of two evils, hold your nose, and vote.




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  13. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Doug Mataconis: It wasn’t my job, or intention, to be an advocate for any of these candidates. I stated numerous times in both posts and comment threads that I thought both Cuccinelli and McAuliffe were horrible candidates, and in many ways the outcome of the race reflects that.

    Yes, Doug. But you regularly went into great detail why you thought Cuccinelli was bad, and — to the best of my knowledge — never said anything specific about McAuliffe. You’re too intelligent, too good a writer, to do that so consistently by accident.

    So, now that it’s safely over, will you say why you thought McAuliffe was a horrible candidate? Or is it now irrelevant?




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  14. gVOR08 says:

    @Mu:

    As long as the right wing of the GOP can’t get the difference between “having socially conservative values” and “enforcing said values on everybody.

    I’d upvote that a thousand times if I could. Why is that so freaking hard for conservatives to grasp?

    I thought the idea that the government was supposed to enforce someone’s version of morality on everybody else had died an unlamented death long ago, but apparently not.




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  15. gVOR08 says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: You remind me of a friend of mine. I keep trying to engage him in some sort of more meta level discussion of politics. But even a question like, “You think Romney or Obama will win?” draws nothing but a torrent of ‘Republican good, Democrat bad.’ It’s impossible to engage him at a tactical or philosophical level. Even to the extent of getting an answer to a factual yes/no question.

    Doug wants to talk about polls and probable election outcomes and you want to talk about ‘Cucinnelli good, McCauliffe bad’.




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  16. Gavrilo says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    McAuliffe supports same-sex marriage; therefore, he is dreamy in Doug’s eyes.




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  17. ptfe says:

    @James Joyner: A 13-hour run? You should consider joining the VHTRC.

    Observations about the RCP averages:
    – They don’t even come close to 100% in the final polling, so we should consider scaling the values to reflect that. Just doing a rough calculation by assuming that the major parties get 99% of the vote (i.e. ignoring the prospect of write-ins), RCP Average shows (in a 100% race) TM at 48%, KC at 41%, and RS at 10%.
    – Sarvis (not surpringly) significantly lost support, which is to be expected of any “serious” 3rd-party candidate these days. He dropped 3% off the RCP raw and 3.4% off RCP scaled.
    – Prior to the race, I would have figured that Sarvis voters were about 3-1 Republican voters, so his 3.4% drop would result (based on polling) in TM ~48.8%, KC ~43.6%, and RS ~6.5%. If, instead, we figure it’s closer to a 9-to-1 ratio, we get TM ~48.5%, KC ~44%, and RS ~6.5%.
    Total deltas (approx): -1% for TM, +2% for KC @ 3-to-1; 0% TM, +1.5% KC @ 9-to-1.
    – End result: McAuliffe didn’t lose much, Cuccinelli gained a little, and the real loser is the Libertarian, who failed to get his party on the next ballot and helped get the N-to-1 “2nd choice” guy beaten.

    The idea that the polls somehow totally bombed this one is, to put it mildly, off base. The only real problem that I see with the polling was the overconfidence the Sarvis supporters would, in fact, be Sarvis supporters, but 3rd-party candidates are notoriously difficult to predict.




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  18. JKB says:

    @gVOR08: I thought the idea that the government was supposed to enforce someone’s version of morality on everybody else had died an unlamented death long ago,

    So you are for small government of limited powers needed such as defense, foreign relations and such?

    Because, the whole of the welfare state, the federal involvement in marriage and abortion, Obamacare, federal assaults on student-led prayer, etc. are all using government “to enforce someone’s version of morality on everyone else”.




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  19. becca says:

    @JKB: I think you dug the latrine too close to the well at the compound, JKB.




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  20. grumpy realist says:

    @JKB: Um, dearie–that’s why we’ve been pointing out that the other side is just FULL of it. Doesn’t want a safety net, doesn’t want health insurance, but is perfectly happy putting a camera into everyone’s bedroom and hasn’t yet seen a military defense contract it doesn’t like.




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  21. grumpy realist says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: This was along the lines of watching a 50-car pile up. In SPITE of McAuliffe’s sleaziness etc, Cuccinelli (plus his sidekick bozo0 managed to pull defeat from the jaws of victory. That’s what we found so morbidly fascinating. It’s like watching someone on the Ed Sullivan show, someone who claims to be a professional sharpshooter, pick up the gun and shoot himself in the foot. Multiple times.




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  22. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: So now that you’ve establilshed exactly how Doug has betrayed America by not fighting to get this sociopathic panty sniffer elected, why don’t you share with us exactly all the work that you put into the election? Surely if you care so much that you go after Doug day in and day out, you must have really knocked yourself out working to get the Cooch into office.

    So did you donate a lot of money? Make phone calls? Knock on doors?

    What was your contribution to this election? I mean, short of whining about what someone you will never meet did or did not write on his blog?




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  23. Latino_in_Boston says:

    I’m glad McAuliffe won because I’m certain that Cucinelli would have been a disaster and a serious problem regarding social policy (not to mention voting restrictions, etc). This, however, does not blind me to the fact that McAuliffe was a terrible candidate. Probably the worst Democratic governor currently in office. I hope he proves me wrong, but he’s probably a scandal waiting to happen. This, however, shows how badly the GOP screwed up. If they had chosen someone that didn’t bring up sodomy every other word, or abortion, or contraceptives (contraceptives, for God’s sake), and had at least a whiff of competence they probably would have won. Instead, they got the Cooch and now they have to live with the result.




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  24. gVOR08 says:

    @JKB:

    Because, the whole of the welfare state, the federal involvement in marriage and abortion, Obamacare, federal assaults on student-led prayer, etc. are all using government “to enforce someone’s version of morality on everyone else”.

    Umhh:
    – How is “welfare” imposing my morality on anyone?
    – marriage and abortion? No one is forcing you, or anyone else to have an abortion or marry a same sex partner.
    – Obamacare? Allowing the working poor to buy insurance is forcing my morality on who?
    – even prayer restriction is just preventing you from forcing Christian prayer on non-Christians

    So yes, if by “morality” you mean your belief you should make others behave “properly” then yes, I’m imposing my morality on you. Otherwise no, we’re just allowing others to behave as they feel proper.

    You need to read Lakoff. He makes a very good case that for liberals “freedom” means , well, freedom. For conservatives, “freedom” means being allowed to behave as they feel is their duty, which includes forcing others to behave as the conservative feels is their duty. Your statement makes sense in that context. Otherwise not.




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  25. Mikey says:

    The government shutdown hosed Cuccinelli two ways. First, his party took most of the blame (because it was their fault) and second, because it pulled attention away from the problematic rollout of the PPACA. Cuccinelli was able to start closing the gap in part because he was able to hammer “Obamacare” at every stump speech for the last couple weeks. Imagine if he’d had over a month to do that…but he didn’t, because the shutdown sucked up all the news cycle for two weeks.




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  26. mantis says:

    What’s disturbing is how many Virginians voted for that lunatic Jackson.




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  27. ebase22 says:

    gVOR08,

    I highly dislike all this rightious political talk about not enforecing morality or what not. Unless you are an anarchist, the very nature of politics is using force to compel people to do things that they otherwise would not have done.

    So if you support welfare because you think it’s right that poorer people are given more at the expense of others or that its unfair that rich people have more money, and you vote to have someone use force to take money from one to give to the other, how is that not “forcing your morality” onto other people?

    And i don’t say this as “welfare is bad – government is evil” – I’m only pointing out that such support is also advocating the use of force to change people’s behavior into something that you prefer.

    You vote to “force your morality” onto people just as they do onto you. The difference is you have a different set of guidlines as to what is proper moral behavior. It may just be taking from the rich to give to the poor of forcing businesses to serve minority groups they wouldnt otherwise like to do, instead of what social conservatives generally see as moral. But it’s still forcing either way.




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  28. David M says:

    This could be a pretty big win for Obamacare if McAullife is able to get Virginia to expand Medicaid.

    I wonder if Democratic candidates shouldn’t also campaign against healthcare.gov and support creating state run exchanges. There’s no reason to let this particular sabotage effort continue.




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  29. stonetools says:

    I think what the race proves is the importance of fundamentals as opposed to candidates or the news cycle. The fundamentals are that due to an influx of Yankees and immigrants into northern Virginia, Virginia has turned from a deep red, traditionally Southern state to a red leaning purple (maroon?) state. If the influx continues, it will become by 2020 a blue-leaning purple (violet?) state (somewhat like Pennsylvania).
    Neither candidate was perfect. Cuccinelli’s social conservatism proved toxic to the libertarian type conservatives and true blue liberals disliked Macauliffe’s crony capitalist side. What mattered was not the likability of the candidates, but the programs they stood for. Eventually though slightly more of the voters looked at the program, not the candidates and opted for the liberal program.
    The electorate is another fundamental. This was an off year electorate, so it was whiter, older, and more conservative than a presidential electorate (which almost certainly explains why the election was closer than predicted).Macauliffe was actually going uphill all the time trying to sell a liberal message to an off year electorate-something not appreciated by most media and bloggers. What is heartening to liberals is that :

    1. The message was liberal.it was pro-ACA, pro-environmental, pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-gun safety, pro-governmental spending to get things done(transportation).
    2. Despite that, an off year electorate voted in favor of it-albeit slightly. That bodes well for 2016,(although 2014 still looks like a push).
    For liberals, there is still a lot to do. Thanks to gerrymandering, the Republicans still retain an outsize majority in the state legislature so much of the liberal agenda is completely out of the question. About all we can hope for is ACA implementation and transportation spending. Gay rights and gun safety will have to wait for the 2020 redistricting. And reproductive rights are safe, thanks to the governor’s veto power .




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  30. Todd says:

    I don’t live in Virginia (although two of my daughters do), so I only had a minor interest in watching this race. But from what I saw, last night’s vote seemed to be primarily about Cuccinelli. Even most Democrats agreed that McAuliffe is not an “ideal” candidate. So I think there was much more voting against Cuccinelli than voting for McAuliffe.

    … which makes the latest meme going around Conservative circles, that Sarvis was some sort of Democratic “plant”, all the more ridiculous. I would venture to say that there were probably very few voters who cast a ballot for Sarvis who would have voted for Cuccinelli if there was no Libertarian choice. Most more likely would have done as James did, and just stayed home.




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  31. ebase22 says:

    Todd,

    It indeed was a race largely about Cuccinelli. Based on the high negatives both had in pre election polling, the race was decided on net by people who didn’t like McAullife but held their noses and voted for him anyway.




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  32. David M says:

    @ebase22:

    Held their noses and voted for him during the worst publicity Obamacare is likely to encounter.




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  33. stonetools says:

    Doug ( and other libertarians) are copping a lot of stick on Twitter for supporting Sarvis and costing Cuccinelli the election. FWIW, I think that’s wrong. I think the final votes show that most of the conservative learning libertarians came home to Cuccinelli, which explains the late drop in Sarvis’ support and Cuccinelli winning among the so called “independents”. I think absent Sarvis, the libertarian party vote goes Democrat or stays home and Macauliffe wins in a walk.




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  34. Mikey says:

    @Todd:

    I would venture to say that there were probably very few voters who cast a ballot for Sarvis who would have voted for Cuccinelli if there was no Libertarian choice. Most more likely would have done as James did, and just stayed home.

    ABC’s exit polling indicated twice as many Sarvis voters would have voted for McAuliffe than for Cuccinelli, were Sarvis not on the ticket.

    I wouldn’t have stayed home, because I wanted to vote in the down-ballot contests. I voted for Sarvis, but if he hadn’t been on the ticket, I’d have written in “Cthulhu.”




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  35. KM says:

    @ebase22: Excuse the sophistry but I think the distinction being made is that Morals with the capital M are viewed by the general public as something intrinsically religious-based (see the struggle to get people to view atheists as moral people). Morals tend to be derived from some sort of dogma or overarching cannon that is consistently referred to when the Moral is questioned (re Bible or Koran). Morals tend to be as flexible for a person as their adherence to the dogma (re cafeteria Catholics) and can vary between sects and regions (re hajibs vs aabaya). It is hard to have Morals is one is not religious but not impossible.

    The more basic version is morals with a lowercase m. These are what we view as intrinsically human and universal to cultures – murder is wrong, don’t steal, don’t hurt the weak. You know, the things little kids can eventually figure out on their own but society makes a point of teaching anyways. These are what makes society function – without them, we are feral animals in the wild. Now, the confusion comes since morals are often included in Morals to the point where little to no distinction is made. A good person is moral but can also be Moral. This is where religious conflicts come in to play as you are only Moral is your my Moral. A Baptist may not view a Muslim as having their Morals but will describe them as a “good person”.

    gVOR08 is agrueing for morals. You appear to be trying to conflate Morals with morals. While I agree that the law compels people to do things that they otherwise would not have done, trying to force a religious belief on people is different then making sure people aren’t dying in the streets.




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  36. george says:

    @ebase22:

    You vote to “force your morality” onto people just as they do onto you. The difference is you have a different set of guidlines as to what is proper moral behavior. It may just be taking from the rich to give to the poor of forcing businesses to serve minority groups they wouldnt otherwise like to do, instead of what social conservatives generally see as moral. But it’s still forcing either way.

    Except the progressives are open about believing in big government. The conservatives say they want small government, but then turn around and ask for big government (military, various moral issues (gay marriage, abortion etc), War on Drugs, Patriot Act, etc). So yes, both do it. But only the conservatives are hypocritical about it.

    I suspect it’d be much less odious if the conservatives admitted they too wanted big government, just a differernt flavor of big government. There’s just something really annoying about someone pretending they want limited government who actually wants a really big government that gets involved in people’s day to day lives – and for many, other nation’s day to day lives as well, what with foreign military adventures and all.




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  37. ebase22 says:

    george, im not making a point on republican rhetorical contradictions – I agree there are many. I’m trying to step out of the partisan contriant of thought and meerly argue that one should not be complaining about “enforcing morality” when that indeed is the nature of politics.

    KM, And a social conservative would say the same thing about preventing what they see as the murder of unborn children. Regardless of the details of any given policy you can’t define “Morals” as the things my opponents want to force on me and then define the things you wish to impose on them as not being such and just being nebulously different.

    “Moral” and “religious” is not the same thing. And even if one excepts your definition that capital M “Morals” is equiveleant to religion, what religion has to say is not necessarily different than your definition of small “m” morals. Religion says rape is wrong. Should we remove rape laws because we dont want religion enforcing its Morals?

    And you making the claim that using force is justified if it helps people from dying on the street is not an objective fact. Even if it is widely believed to be true, it is still a value judgement in a situation where there are tradeoffs and therefore it is subjective. It is still enforecing one’s morals to advocate government do such a thing.




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  38. KM says:

    what religion has to say is not necessarily different than your definition of small “m” morals.

    Now, the confusion comes since morals are often included in Morals to the point where little to no distinction is made. A good person is moral but can also be Moral. This is where religious conflicts come in to play as you are only Moral is your my Moral.

    I could have sworn I just made that point. Morals with the small m are the ones that society needs in order to survive – as in, don’t screw over/injury/rape/murder your neighbor because they are are human. Morals says don’t do it because God said no. Just because the two end up with the same end definition doesn’t mean they have the same origin of thought.

    Is Pious pious cause God loves pious?
    Socrates asked whose bias do y’all seek?




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  39. ebase22 says:

    KM, This is still an argument via sophestry. If I even completelyy acccept your destinction for a moment, it’s still person a thinks x is “moral” because it yields some benifit to society or to a person. And person b things y is “moral” for the same reason. And both advocate forecing society as whole to abide by it.

    It seems to be that its mostly about people not likeling what the other guy has in mind that is moral, rather than being opposed to using violence to enforce anything that is not necessary “in order to survive.” Most things the current government enforces ar not strictly required for societies survival. It does so becase large chunks of the electorate think any given thing is proper to do and have made a “moral” (M)? calculation in deciding that.




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  40. C. Clavin says:

    So McAuliffe won by three…in a race Dems lost by…what…17 points last time?
    I think that’s a swing of 20 points…net.
    Maybe not so purple as you think.




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  41. KM says:

    @ebase22:

    KM, This is still an argument via sophestry

    Perhaps. The best example I can give right now is honor killings. Morals as imparted by a religion (or at least, as interpreted by the killer) demand the death of those who dishonored the family/faith/whatever. Morals as imparted by intrinsic human value says murder is wrong. The killer would most likely agree that killing is wrong in a general sense but still commit the honor killing as that what God would have wanted. They will tell you what they did is moral and right. Is it? Which set of morals is the correct one?

    You seem to me to be the type of person who says an atheist has a religion since its sophistry to say otherwise. There is a difference between the two definitions of moral – maybe it doesn’t matter 99% of the time as they are usually identical but when it does differ, it matter BIG.

    Will debate more after work. Have a nice night!




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  42. mattbernius says:

    @ebase22:

    Most things the current government enforces ar not strictly required for societies survival.

    Sorry, have to take issue with this. Most things done by the current government *are strictly* required to enable *modern* societies to survive.

    The entire “the government doesn’t need to be in the marriage game” argument, for example, fails to appreciate the “the marriage game” such that it is, is actually the contractual, inter-generational property game, which is fundamentally crucial to enabling modern societies to survive and prosper.

    BTW, it’s also important to note that even in the “good old days” the government was deeply involved in contract law. Hell, writing was developed and propagated first and foremost for the creation and enforcement of contracts.

    Like it or not, whether we’re talking about the FAA or the FCC governmental offices are crucial to maintain our complex societies. Pretending that they could go away tomorrow and the country would continue to function is crazy to say the least.




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  43. mattbernius says:

    @ebase22:

    And i don’t say this as “welfare is bad – government is evil” – I’m only pointing out that such support is also advocating the use of force to change people’s behavior into something that you prefer.

    You vote to “force your morality” onto people just as they do onto you.

    Maybe I’m missing something here, but how is allowing gay marriages or abortions to take place “advocating the use of force to change people’s behavior into something that you prefer.”

    Unless the law is forcing a provision that religions institutions *must* perform ceremonies for same sex couples or that every woman must get at least one abortion during her life time, where is the “force?”

    Or is simply asking people to peacefully coexist in the same country with married gay couples or women who have had an abortion, a “forcing”?




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  44. Mu says:

    But but but .. you’re forcing the righteous to tolerate abortion in others, and that hurts their feelings. That’s forcing you morals on them!
    For me the big thing is are you trying to make an individual conform to your norms based on your personal values or based on the good of society? It’s hard to make an argument about abortion outside of a religiously based viewpoint. You cannot be libertarian and demand pro-life regulations to curtail someone else’s freedom. On the other hand, welfare can be based solely on the need to preventing the starving masses revolting, as such it’s needed to preserve the stability of the society. Plenty of examples in history of ruling classes ignoring this at their peril. No dogmatic explanation needed.




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  45. An Interested Party says:

    It’s rather amusing that someone has to make a big announcement that even though McAuliffe won, Virginia is still a purplish state…I mean, like no $hit, Sherlock…no one thinking logically would ever claim that Virginia is, all of a sudden, a big, bright blue state simply because a Democrat won the governor’s race…maybe one lesson that can be learned here is that even though PPACA has a lot of detractors, that law isn’t nearly so bad as the awful dynamic of the social beliefs of the Teahadist types…of course, maybe it could be that McAuliffe won simply because Doug didn’t trash him enough…




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  46. James Joyner says:

    @gVOR08: A 2.5% margin is still a whole lotta votes. The chances of my individual vote changing the outcome even in a race where the polls show it that close are negligible, indeed.

    @ptfe: Well, I’ve also got a job and a 40 minute commute both ways. And parental obligations. So, the choice was what to do between 4:30 and 5:30 Tuesday afternoon.




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  47. ptfe says:

    @James Joyner: Likewise for the commute & obligations. I used part of my parenting time to bring the kids to the polls in the morning. If you’ve never heard a 2-year old say “enfranchisement”, you’re missing out.

    As a bonus, the Cuccinelli people were playing up being friendly toward my daughters on the way in and on the way out, apparently trying to gloss over how their desired social policies would affect the girls later in life. Maybe my youngest’s next word can be “irony.”




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