The media loves its sensationalism; consistently making something out of nothing. Here in our 24-hour news cycle, the horse-race of politics has only increased the spin on punditry.
Before the election we went into the Virginia gubernatorial with all the political news outlets proclaiming headlines of “Why Cuccinelli is losing” and “Poll shows strong lead for McAuliffe.” So then why did the race seem so close?!
Progressives and Democrats always knew this was going to be a close race. If they thought this was an easy one, they wouldn’t have spent the time and resources they did.
1) Non-presidential elections are whiter and more conservative: This still happened. The conservative base showed up (per usual to cast their votes for the Cooch). No one was surprised by this.
2) McAuliffe out spent Cuccinelli: The GOP spent $8.6 million on ads boosting their candidate while Dems spent $12.6 million. Money speaks volumes in elections. But the real question here is why didn’t the GOP spend more? The reason – Cuccinelli is too extreme for donors to throw their support behind. His hard-right social views are anti-progress and thusly anti-business.
3) Geography and demographics: Yes, the landscape of Virginia is changing. But it’s changing everywhere. No one is surprised that the outcome of this election hinged on Northern Virginia and areas around the Chesapeake. This is why McAuliffe’s ads concentrated primarily on these areas and Cuccinelli spent much of his last waning days touring the more rural parts of the state.
4) It was always about ground game: Democrats and progressives have always known that the votes were there to win this race. The writing has been on the wall since 2008 with Obama’s big victory in turning the state blue. When you look at the data coming in from the exit polls (and look past all the spin and punditry) what do you see? The electorate was essentially base versus base. 37% of turnout were Democrats, while only 32% were Republicans. This race was about getting the base of your party out to the polls. Dems were organized and mobile from the beginning and it caught the GOP off guard because they aren’t used to such efforts in off-year cycles.
This is just the beginning. Progressives and Democrats have now shown that this isn’t a fluke. Republicans are worried – and they should be. Virginia was just the first; you can see signs increasing that it will happen in North Carolina; and all eyes are on the big prize for 2014….TEXAS.