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November 06, 2013

Cuccinelli Campaign Blames Jindal, RGA For Loss: "They Blew It"

I think this is one of those things that is sort of true, but not in the way people think it's true.

A lot of people are blaming the RGA, the RNC, and wealthy Republican donors who typically donate to Republican candidates for not donating much to Cuccinelli this cycle. Which in turn made him prey to McAuliffe's huge fundraising; Cuccinelli was outspent, I believe, 25-1. (But I've also seen 10-1; I'm not sure.)

I think Cuccinelli's people are right that these donors "blew it." Had they known the election was not unwinnable, but would turn out to be pretty much winnable, they would have and certainly should have donated more.

So I do think they "blew it:" They did not foresee how animating and potent Obamacare would turn out to be in the closing weeks of the campaign, and how that would cut McAuliffe's lead from 7-9 points to, what is it now?, three points.

Had they known these things -- had they been smart enough to predict the future on this point -- they would have invested more heavily in a three-point race. A big spend can probably put a dent in a three-point race, and maybe even turn it into a win.

But here's where I don't buy the rote, kneejerk Stabbed Us In The Back conspiracy theories: While I can fault the RGA and RNC and big-pocket donors for not seeing that Obamacare would tighten up a once-unwinnable race into a winnable one, I can't fault them that much, because Predicting the future is hard.

It was only in the week before the election that pollsters began to detect movement towards Cuccinelli. This came as a surprise to many people. One can fault alleged Experts On Politics for being surprised by events, which actually maybe could have been predicted (or guessed at), but you can't fault them all that much for failing to do what is very, very difficult to do.

Cuccinelli was undoubtedly hurt by the shutdown, which of course was widely blamed on Republicans. Personally, at no point during my own support of the shutdown, did I have the foresight to realize, "This may hurt Cuccinelli in Virginia." My sole focus was on its effect on the 2014 midterms. My belief is/was that the public would forget the shutdown by 2014. But it didn't occur to me they wouldn't have forgotten it by the time of the Virginia gubernatorial election.

And as far as Obamacare: While many of us predicted Obamacare would be bad, I don't think many of us predicted it would be this bad this quickly. I know Mary Katharine Ham and, I think, John Ekdahl doubted this website could be put together in short order; but as for myself, I just assumed the damn website would be up and working. I did not expect a Spectacular Failure on the easiest part of Obamacare.

On Day One! Not on Day Fifty. But on Day One!

I think it's ultimately true that if the RGA, RNC, and the Republican donor class had invested more heavily in Cuccinelli's bid, he may have won.

But this is only the case due to an unexpected game-changer right near the end of the race. And I can't fault people for having failed to predict an unexpected game-changer, especially given that I personally failed to predict it.

Cuccinelli was way behind for most of the race -- on the doorstep of being actually out of the running. When you're flirting with a ten point deficit -- and that 6-9 point deficit is not some brief one-week-of-bad-polling thing, but a persistent characteristic of the race -- it will naturally cause people to think twice about wasting (they would think) their money on a contest likely to result in loss.

So yes, I think they "blew it," but I don't think they sabotaged Cuccinelli or deliberately tanked the election or any of the other Strong Form They're Out To Get Us type stuff.

[Update/Purp] -- Shifting VA demographics

Things to ponder...

VA is not the same place it was 20 years ago.

People have been pouring IN to VA from CA(10k), CT(10k), NY(53k), PA(29k), NJ(29k), MD(20k)...

...while fleeing OUT of VA to FL(23k), GA(11K), NC(39k), TN(10k).

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posted by Ace at 10:39 AM

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