Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How Terry McAuliffe almost blew it

Terry McAuliffe will be the next governor of Virginia but he almost let a sure thing slip away during the last couple of weeks. In doing do, he likely hurt both his statewide running mates, especially attorney general candidate Mark Herring who will have a fight to survive a recount. What are some of the factors that cut what looked like a comfortable 6-8% margin of victory down to about 2.5%? And what can Democrats learn from a near collapse that, if the election were held a week later, could have turned the Commonwealth into a bitter tea party? My foggy brained analysis after counting and recounting absentee votes until after 2:00 a.m on Wed morning:
  • Terry McAuliffe was never able to shake the label of "outsider" or "carpetbagger" and by bringing in Bill Clinton for a statewide tour he reinforced that image among independents and energized Republicans. I'm all in favor of bringing in political heavyweights to fire up the base, but beware of unintended consequences in a campaign's closing days.
  • With the right wing media bashing, and the mainstream media questioning, the rollout of ObamaCare, was it the right thing to bring the president and vice president to the state for campaign appearances? I think not. All that did was, in the minds of some voters, to tie McAuliffe to questions about the competency of government and to link him more with Washington than Richmond. Again, McAuliffe's campaign brought more Republicans out to vote and got many independents questioning him just as it was time to cast votes.
  • Terry McAuliffe we hardly know you! At some point voters want to make a personal connection that establishes trust. Negative campaigns tarnish everybody - voters need at least a few positive reasons to support a candidate rather than simply voting against the other guy. Beyond the Democratic diehards, McAuliffe never succeeded in building that relationship. Perhaps McAuliffe should have taken a page from the Obenshain playbook and given his family a greater role in explaining Terry "the father and the man" to voters.
  • I never thought a minor party candidate would garner double digits like some pre-election polls indicated. I wondered if, come election day and crunch time in the voting booth, more than 5-6% of the voters would decide to "send a message" or "waste a vote." Sarvis, with few resources or recognition, ran a pretty good campaign and aired some compelling TV ads but in the end about half of his "support" drained away, with most going to Cuccinelli.
Virginia was lucky to dodge the disaster that a Governor Cuccinelli would have inflicted on this fine Commonwealth. Now Governor Terry McAuliffe needs to build and mend the bridges that he failed to build and mend in the campaign.
Oh, I've got that day after the election "what if" hangover.  ~Bill Bolling


Progressive said...

Thanks for the assessment.

Anonymous said...