Well, ladies and gentlemen, it has been nearly a week since the election of November 5th. Perhaps it is time for a little analysis. Before I begin, I should add that the week before the election, Bearing Drift asked their readers to offer their predictions on how things would turn out. Therefore, in each race, I’ll start by mentioning my predictions.
Prediction: McAuliffe 51%, Cuccinelli 43%, Sarvis 6%
Actual: McAuliffe 47.74%, Cuccinelli 45.23%, Sarvis 6.52%
The four November polls in the lead up to Election Day predicted Cuccinelli down by significant percentages, 12%, 7%, 6%, and 7%. Only one, Emerson College placed him within two points and the margin of error. As Cuccinelli had not been leading in a poll since mid July, the general thought was that it wasn’t going to be a particularly close race. However, the Cuccinelli campaign tried two tactics right before judgment day.
The first involved Obamacare. Given that citizens across the country were having tremendous difficulty signing up on the official website, this frustration and anger proved to be fertile ground for the Cuccinelli camp given that Cuccinelli had been attacking the program within hours of its passage. If the Cuccinelli campaign had latched onto this message sooner rather than relentlessly attacking McAuliffe, then perhaps they would have stood a good chance of actually winning.
Second, as negativity was their style, the Cuccinelli campaign and their allies attempted last minute smearing of Robert Sarvis, declaring that he was not a real libertarian and that he was secretly funded by Democrats. Although neither of these claims were grounded in much fact, as they were distributed by both leaders in the liberty movement and a handful of well-known media sources, some voters accepted them as true and passed them on to their friends and neighbors unquestioned. Although these tactics likely enraged a number of Sarvis supporters and turned them further from Cuccinelli, it did drive others to switch their votes from Sarvis to Cuccinelli. Although I predicted that Sarvis would pull equally from both McAuliffe and Cuccinelli, exit polls show that either his presence didn’t affect the overall outcome or he drew more from the Democratic side than the Republican. However, this last ditch effort to win Sarvis support likely caused an even deeper fracture within the liberty movement in Virginia.
10% was the hurdle that Sarvis needed to reach and, as I predicted, he fell short. However, assuming these false attacks were not launched, it would have been interesting to see how close he would have come.
Prediction: Northam 55%, Jackson 45%
Actual: Northam 55.11%, Jackson 44.54%
If you account for rounding, I hit this one exactly on the mark. Unfortunately, as I stated upon the conclusion of the 2013 Virginia Republican Convention, by nominating Jackson the Republicans had surrendered the LG race. If you will recall, in Jackson’s previous attempt at a statewide race the year before, he picked up a scant 4.72%. Although Jackson strongly resonated with the hard-line social conservatives within the GOP, many of his previous statements regarding alternate religions and lifestyles hurt him tremendously among average Virginians. Although Ralph Northam did not run a particularly impressive or vigorous campaign, all he needed to do was to air some of Jackson’s more controversial statements and victory was all but a certainty.
Prediction: Obenshain 52% Herring 48%
Actual: Obenshain 49.88%, Herring 49.88% (as of 11/10/13)
The Obenshain/Herring contest turned out to be a real nail-biter, with the results still unknown and likely headed to a recount. Originally, I expected Obenshain to win based upon the fact that the Democrats had not won the attorney general’s spot since 1989 and that Obenshain had been working hard to capture this office for the last several years. Although, in my opinion, the Obenshain team ran the best of the three Republican campaigns, they were no doubt hampered by troubles at the top of the ticket. Once news of a possible recount emerged, I was still under the impression that Obenshain would win, but with the addition of “missing” ballots from Fairfax, the results seem a lot more unclear. We likely won’t know anything definitive for at least a month.
House of Delegates
Prediction: 1 net seat gain for the Democrats
Actual: 1 net seat gain for the Democrats
With all of the excitement surrounding the three statewide races, the hundred seats in the House of Delegates weren’t much more than an afterthought for many Virginia voters. Although I didn’t know where, I assumed that the Democrats would pick off a Republican somewhere. It looks as if the GOP lost in the 2nd district, picked up the previously Republican leaning independent seat in the 19th, picked up the vacant seat in the 78th, picked up the vacant seat in 84th, and lost the 93rd. Elsewhere, there were a considerable number of close contests. Prior to the elections and vacancies, the Democrats had 32 seats. Now they have 33. Although I’ve written extensively on the 93rd in previous posts, it seems that even with a bit of gerrymandering the seat was too difficult for the GOP to hold for long.
So I guess the question now is, will Obenshain win? And, especially if he does not, given their string of successive statewide losses since the 2009 election, what will become of the Republican Party of Virginia?