Ringside Seat: Virginia Is Not for Governors

There's a plethora of reasons why Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s chances are lousy in Virginia's off-year gubernatorial election. It's not just the fact that demographics and history stand against him. Few people in any state are enthusiastic about voting for dedicated party operators, and McAuliffe is exactly that—a quintessential partisan Democrat with a history in fundraising, the sleaziest part of partisan politics.Which does a lot to account for the latest survey from Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling, in which only 29 percent of Virginia voters have a favorable opinion of McAuliffe and his candidacy, compared to 33 percent who have a negative one.

But here’s the rub: Even more Virginians dislike the Republican nominee, Ken Cuccinelli. Forty-four percent have an unfavorable opinion of the attorney general, and among independents—the crucial demographic in Virginia—that number rises to 51 percent. Only 25 percent of independents have a favorable opinion of Cuccinelli, for a net unfavorable rating of 26 percent. It’s astounding. It's also the only reason why McAuliffe maintains a five-point lead over Cuccinelli, 42 percent to 37 percent.

Worse for Cuccinelli, looking forward, is his relatively low support among Republicans. Only 78 percent support his candidacy, compared to the 82 percent of Democrats (still not exactly unanimous) who are committed to McAuliffe. If the Clintons' favorite rainmaker can unify the Democratic Party and pick off disgruntled Republicans, then he has a real shot at winning in spite of himself.

He’ll likely have a little assistance from the rest of the Republican ticket particularly E.W. Jackson, the party’s nominee for lieutenant governor. He’s still unknown among most Virginians (71 percent have no opinion of him), but given his penchant for outrageous statements , that will change as more voters begin to tune into the election.  A Ken Cuccinelli who is tied to the rhetoric of E.W. Jackson is a Ken Cuccinelli who can’t run from his own history of his extremism. This doesn’t preclude him from winning, since Virginia gubernatorial elections are notoriously weird and McAuliffe is an unusually unappealing candidate. But Jackson does make it much more difficult.

So They Say

“I love Michelle Obama. She’s a real fighter. Just take a look at those biceps."

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Daily Meme: Bye Bye Bachmann

  • Michele Bachmann, "president of Crazytown," is bidding Congress adieu. Here are the moments of her career we plan on remembering: 
  • That time she called climate change “all voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax," and said Obamacare—"the crown jewel of socialism"—literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens.”
  • Or the time she went on a crusade against the Muslim Brotherhood infestation in Congress, basically conducting an utterly foundless witch hunt?
  • Remember what she had to say about Melissa Etheridge? "Unfortunately she is now suffering from breast cancer, so keep her in your prayers. This may be an opportunity for her now to be open to some spiritual things, now that she is suffering with that physical disease. She is a lesbian."
  • Perhaps in retirement she can devote some time to studying up on the facts she lacks, and the Shakespeare quotes she hasn't quite mastered. If all else fails, she can start a Christmas letter-writing start-up. Or maybe do Dancing With the Stars?
  • "But hollowness, alas, is Mrs Bachmann's legacy. Her brief seven-year tenure in Congress has been heat without light. She has chaired neither a committee nor a subcommittee. Of the 58 bills she sponsored or co-sponsored, precisely one passed the full House: a repeal of the Affordable Care Act that has as much chance of becoming law as it does of becoming a kumquat."
  • Still, the fact-checkers will certainly miss her: “She kept the Truth-O-Meter busy—and occasionally made it burst into flames. She cited our work once during a debate, saying that we had rated all of her claims from a previous debate to be True. But alas, she was wrong and earned another Pants on Fire.” 
  • Never fear, though: Other Republicans are ready to fill Bachmann's pants-on-fire role.

What We're Writing

  • State legislatures are becoming as politically polarized as Congress—and Republicans are taking full advantage, as Abby Rapoport explains.
  • The stimulus-funded expansions of the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps, and unemployment insurance helped protect children's well-being during the Great Recession, writes Jared Bernstein. Now, with most of the Recovery Act money gone, spending on children and families could soon dwindle in the name of deficit reduction.

What We're Reading

  • Will the Supreme Court tackle abortion next session?
  • David Bromwich lists the many variables of an intervention in Syria.
  • Why is Houston the country's top job creator? Let Derek Thompson explain.
  • GQ created a hybrid picture of George W. Bush and Bob Ross you never wanted to see. But still, go see it.
  • Between 2000 and 2012, D.C. police officers recovered more than 28,000 guns.
  • Jonathan Alter tries to connect Obama's pitiful debate performance (rememberthat?) to how his second term has unfolded.

Poll of the Day

Forty percent of households with children younger than 18 have women as the primary breadwinners. That's a marked change from 1960, when only 11 percent of mothers were the primary source of income for their families. And then there's this fascinating fact: A family's total income tends to be higher when the mother is the primary provider, the new Pew Research study shows.

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