How The Hell Is Terry McAuliffe Winning?

Candidate For Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe Casts His Vote

He’s one of those slimy, oily, back-slapping, money-grubbing pols that creep me out. He doesn’t even have the Clinton charm. And yet he’s ahead:

Republican Ken Cuccinelli goes into today’s gubernatorial election in Virginia expected to lose to Democrat Terry McAullife, a man who almost missed the birth of a child to attend a fundraiser and once downed shots of Puerto Rican rum on morning television. The Most Quoted Man in Washington, University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato, has summed up the election as two people “running against the only people they could beat”—and Cuccinelli, well, couldn’t.


His answer:

[Cuccinelli] chose the campaign path that offered the most resistance from 21st-century constituencies. For instance, already vulnerable to suggestions he was overly involved in people’s bedroom activities (he’d sent an volunteer to monitor a George Mason University sex fair and said the state should regulate gay sex), he opted to set up a website to advocate for the restoration of the state’s sodomy law, which was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2003. And critically, given the extension of the franchise to women just 93 years ago, McAuliffe was able to target Cuccinelli for supporting transvaginal ultrasounds for women seeking abortions because Cuccinelli supports transvaginal ultrasounds for women seeking abortions.

Cuccinelli is a reactionary theocon of the Catholic variety, a type gently reprimanded by the current Pope. Par exemple:

My view is that homosexual acts, not homosexuality, but homosexual acts are wrong. They’re intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law based country it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that. … They don’t comport with natural law. I happen to think that it represents (to put it politely; I need my thesaurus to be polite) behavior that is not healthy to an individual and in aggregate is not healthy to society.

Myra Adams notes the huge gender divide in the Virginia race:

Women are McAuliffe’s key to victory. According to a recent Washington Post poll, there is not just a gender gap but a gender canyon, with McAuliffe trumping Cuccinelli 58 to 34 percent with women voters. Cuccinelli is opposed to abortion and holds traditional views on gay marriage and contraception. The McAuliffe campaign has successfully labeled him as an extremist.

Enten’s analysis of the race:

McAuliffe’s success has largely depended on Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli being even more disliked. Sound familiar? It should, because a very similar battle is going on for the 2014 midterms. Democrats are trying to break a stretch of the White House party losing or winning fewer than 10 seats in the House of Representatives – a stretch that dates back to the civil war. They need to take 17 seats to win back the House.

Right now, Democrats are ahead on the national House ballot by about four points among likely 2014 voters. As in Virginia, it’s all about being less ugly. President Obama’s approval rating is bad, but Republican approval ratings are worse. The fact that voters in Virginia are disobeying the longer term election after the presidential race trend should have national Republicans at least somewhat worried.

Update from a reader:

Here are two things that are very interesting about the VA governor race. The first is that it is very focused. McAuliffe is using his DNC knowledge about microtargetting to his maximum advantage. With me being an immigrant, my wife is the only voter in our household. The only gubernatorial stuff we’ve got in the mail is stuff on women’s rights. Nothing on jobs, nothing on health care – only women’s rights. Cuccinelli has sent us nothing, even though we got plenty of mail from our Republican Delegate. He even showed up at her polling station this morning.

Second, and perhaps more important, McAuliffe has masterfully succeeded to stay focused on the issues, not on his personality – which is a loser for him. And even more interesting, McAuliffe has come out swinging as a true Democrat. Pro-Obamacare. Pro-choice. Pro-gay. Pro-transit. And: pro-compromising – he will likely face a Republican House of Delegates, while the separately-elected lieutenant-governor will break the tie in the Senate.

Normally, Democrats who want to win in Virginia pose as centrists – see Warner and Kaine – to get elected. McAuliffe will entirely win on Obamacare and women’s issues – and sheer disgust of Cuccinelli.

(Photo: Democratic Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe passes a campaign flyer to three-year-old Ozzie Springer of Centerville, Virginia, as he greets commuters on Election Day at Vienna/Fairfax-GMU Metro Station in Fairfax, Virginia. By Alex Wong/Getty Images.)