As Goes Virginia?

VA Negative Ratings

Nate Cohn claims that the Virginia governor’s race has little bearing on national politics:

Over the last few weeks, it’s become fashionable to suggest that the shutdown dealt a significant blow to Cuccinelli. Nate Silver has already treaded this ground, but I’m going to retread it. I just don’t see the evidence. McAuliffe already built a modest but clear lead, founded on a massive favorability gap and a massive advertising advantage. He was going to win. Period.

Enten agrees:

Ken Cuccinelli was a sitting duck before any shutdown hit. His favorable ratings had been dropping since way back in July, and smart analysts like Sean Trende were predicting his defeat from May onwards. One could argue that the ideology that brought Republicans into a showdown with President Obama harmed them significantly in Virginia; the shutdown itself, however, shows no real effect.

Greg Sargent, who posts the chart above, differs:

Multiple observers — see Mark Murray and Taegan Goddard for examples — argue Virginia is increasingly resembling the country as a whole.

A detailed demographic case along these lines has been advanced by Ronald Brownstein, who has argued that McAuliffe’s probable success is being powered by the growth of an emerging Democratic coalition that will likely be crucial to Democrats in statewide and national races in the future. This “coalition of the ascendant,” as Browntsein calls them, includes minorities, young voters, and college educated whites, particularly women.

Brownstein argues that McAuliffe’s apparent success in riding this coalition — which entails staking out socially liberal stances that swing state Dems have historically downplayed out of fear of alienating culturally conservative downscale whites — could have major implications nationally.

Kilgore’s two cents:

Truth is, after 2010 confirmed the heavy shift to the GOP of the groups most likely to turn out in mid-terms and off-year elections, I figured it would be a good long while before a Democrat would win the governorship in a “purple” state with off-year elections like Virginia. There’s got to be a non-trivial reason for McAuliffe’s apparently easy win, and while it may perhaps be personal to Cuccinelli, there’s no reason to conclude that without post-election evidence.