Yahoo asked Republican and conservative voters in New Jersey and Virginia to react to Tuesday's gubernatorial elections and tell us: What did voters learn about their party's strategies in these races that can be applied to 2014 and beyond? Here's one perspective.
COMMENTARY |Democrat Terry McAuliffe narrowly defeated Republican Ken Cuccinelli to become governor of Virginia. Political pundits have been saying that this race was a contest not just between two candidates but between the tea party and Obamacare, and between approval and disapproval of President Obama's policies. As a former Democrat who "converted" to conservatism in 2012, and who lives in the Coalfields near Roanoke, I can tell you firsthand that the pundits are wrong.
Results show McAuliffe beat Cuccinelli by fewer than 55,000 votes statewide. That number is hardly a "clear mandate" that shows approval of Obama, Obamacare, or even a clear repudiation of the recent government shut down, threat of default, or the tea party. In fact, given that most Americans blame the Republican Party for the shut down, and the fact that McAuliffe overwhelmingly outspent Cuccinelli, $32 million to $20 million, in a bitter campaign filled with attack ads, what is surprising is that McAuliffe did not beat Cuccinelli by a larger number and percentage.
Cuccinelli tried to make the election about Obamacare and the need for freedom of choice in health care in the last days of the campaign, while McAuliffe's campaign focused on ads that attacked Cuccinelli personally for his stances on social issues like abortion and marriage equality. Would a more socially moderate Republican have defeated McAuliffe? The narrow victory margin certainly suggests this.
The fact that McAuliffe beat Cuccinelli by such a small number should concern Democrats as the 2014 midterm elections draw near. To me, this narrow victory implies that Democrats face strong head winds, and there is still time for Republicans to repair the fallout from this year's government shut down. If issues continue to plague the roll out of Obamacare, and if millions of Americans continue to receive cancellation notices in the mail from their insurers due to Obamacare, Democrats will pay the price in 2014 for Obama's lie: "If you like your plan, you can keep it," just as President George H.W. Bush paid the price for his infamous falsehood, "Read my lips: no new taxes."
Lyn Brooks, 45, lives in rural southwest Virginia near Roanoke.
- Politics & Government
- Ken Cuccinelli
- President Obama
- Terry McAuliffe