Skip to comments.Why Most Postmortems of Virginia’s Gubernatorial Race Are Wrong
Posted on 11/13/2013 5:52:03 AM PST by 1010RD
The dust has settled (mostly) from last weeks elections, so I thought it time to present a very different assessment of what happened in Virginia than the snapshot Ive seen from others.
For example, Democracy Corps and Womens Voices, Women Vote Action Fund distributed a wholly self-serving and unconvincing memo titled Unmarried Women Cast Deciding Votes in Virginia Election. Its unconvincing, of course, because Republicans always lose unmarried women, regardless of an elections outcome. Unmarried women are more liberal than most voters and are not part of any winning Republican coalition.
NBCs Domenico Montanaro and The Washington Posts Jonathan Capehart credited African-American turnout for Democrat Terry McAuliffes victory, as did Jamelle Bouie of The Daily Beast. Wrong as well, Im afraid.
Others have noted, quite incorrectly, that the partisan makeup of the 2013 electorate wasnt very different from the makeup of the 2012 electorate in Virginia, suggesting that Democrats have found some formula for turning out key voting groups in lower turnout elections that could help them offset what most expect to be a less Democratic-inclined electorate for the 2014 midterms.
While these assessments tell a part of the story and certainly should force Republican voters and strategists to take a clear-eyed look at the long-term prospects of the current GOP coalition, they dont explain last weeks results in Virginia, nor do they offer meaningful insights into 2014.
While African-American voters made up one-fifth of the Virginia electorate in both 2012 and 2013 and Democrats held a partisan advantage in both contests (7 points in 2012 and 5 points in 2013), McAuliffe did not win because of the makeup of the electorate or the GOPs weaknesses with black voters.
He won because Republican Ken Cuccinelli failed to get the same level of support from the normally Republican voting groups that Mitt Romney had a year earlier. And any complete comparison of the 2012 and 2013 electorates in the commonwealth suggests turnout problems for Democrats in next years midterms.
The 2013 Virginia electorate was older, wealthier, more married and, surprisingly, more male than the Virginia electorate during the presidential race just a year earlier. In other words, it was a measurably more Republican-looking electorate than the one that turned out in the commonwealth for President Barack Obamas re-election, even with the impressive black turnout.
In 2012, the Virginia electorate, according to exit poll data on CNNs website, was 53 percent female and 47 percent male. This year, the exit poll showed an electorate that was 51 percent female and 49 percent male.
Voters age 18-29 constituted a strong 19 percent of the electorate in 2012, but made up only 13 percent of this years electorate. On the other hand, voters 65 and older were 18 percent of this years Virginia electorate, 4 points more than the 14 percent they constituted in 2012.
This years electorate was also much wealthier. In 2012, 34 percent of voters made $100,000 a year or more, but this year 40 percent fell into that income category.
In 2012, only 62 percent of the electorate was married. This year, 67 percent said they were married.
So, in many important demographic categories, the 2013 electorate was much different than the one that showed up to the polls last year. And the differences should have favored the Republican ticket. That wasnt true of race and partisanship, of course, but there is no reason to pull out only two categories for examination, especially given the richness of the exit poll data.
The survey data are pretty clear on why Cuccinelli lost. He lost because he was unable to match Romneys percentages with key demographic groups that almost always vote Republican. Those voters showed up at the polls, but too many Romney voters crossed over to cast ballots for McAuliffe or Libertarian Robert Sarvis.
The Republican nominee for governor won a plurality of male voters (48 percent), but well below the 51 percent that Romney won in the state last year. Cuccinelli would have gained an additional 48,000 votes if he had matched Romneys percentage, much of which would have come from McAuliffe, thereby completely erasing the Democrats 55,100 victory margin. (See Virginias total vote here.)
Add in white women (Romney won 59 percent of them in the state in 2012, while Cuccinelli won only 54 percent this year) or wealthy voters (Romney won 51 percent of voters earning at least $100,000 a year in Virginia in 2012, while Cuccinelli drew just 43 percent of them and lost the category to McAuliffe) and the Republican would have had a comfortable victory last week.
And if you dont want to focus on gender, the marital status numbers tell the same story. Romney won 55 percent of married voters in Virginia last year, while Cuccinelli won only 50 percent of them this year. Thats about 75,400 fewer married voters than a Romney-like Republican gubernatorial nominee should have drawn.
Though you hear a lot about the changing face of the electorate, both nationally and in Virginia, thats not why Cuccinelli lost last week.
The Virginia election in 2013 was one where the Republican nominee would have won merely by attracting the votes of the same people who voted for Mitt Romney. The partys candidate for governor did not need to improve his showing among young voters, African-Americans, Hispanics or unmarried women. He just needed to get white guys and their wives.
That conclusion, which is based on an evaluation of all of the data, not on merely cherry-picking one or two variables, ought to be little comfort for Democratic strategists worrying about the makeup of the midterm electorate.
Correction Nov. 12, 12:49 p.m.
An earlier version of this post misstated one reference of the income range of wealthy Virginia voters who supported Mitt Romney in 2012. Romney won 51 percent of voters earning at least $100,000 a year in Virginia in 2012.
I think a lot of republicans were really mad that the VA GOP gave them a choice between Romney and Ron Paul in the presidential primary. I recall many folks saying that was the last straw for them.
The rats poured 20 million into terry’s coronation... voter intimidation, voter fraud, stealing votes, buying votes and a republican party aligned with terry and the rats... and their absolute abandonment of Cuch... this is what cost Cuch a Victory.
These “wealthy” Virginians for McAwful are the U.S. government employees surrounding D.C.
The govt. shutdown did affect NoVa, and Kooch.
Third party probably didn't help, but I did hear mixed results. Knowing now that the fake libertarian was bought and paid by liberals tells me his intention (if not result) was to hurt Kucinelli.
My take hasn’t changed. The GOPe made little effort to GOTV of their country club GOPer set. That’s why KC lost. KC wasn’t their guy and they didn’t have much desire to carrying him over the finish line.
What I find interesting is that the VA gov race was much more important to the Dems than the GOP. That’s why they won.
The GOP basically admits they’d rather have a Democrat win than a Tea Partier.
OK, so the voters demography turn out seemed to favor Republicans.
Yet the article barely mentioned if the votes Cuccinelli supposedly lost went to the libertarian candidate. Is there a demography break-down of what the 3rd candidate attracted?
Black thugs outside white polling places? Seriously?
Another thing I should point out. This article relied heavily (if not solely) on the exit poll numbers.
Even if (bold) we assume the exit poll numbers are correct, this does not account for the ‘unseen’ votes Democrats almost always get.
To base your next campaign strategy on the faulty analysis is risky.
As far as I could discern, Cucinelli lost because he was so busy appealing to the base that he failed to sell his ideas to the center. The ads I saw were terrible. Frankly, I put this loss at the feet of the DC consulting class, which is RINO to the core, IOW, it was a classic RINO backstabbing, as they did to any number of TEA Party candidates. The GOPe will not suffer challenge, because their status is more important to them than are the ideas the Party supposedly exists to advance.
Even if (bold) we assume the exit poll numbers are correct, this does not account for the unseen votes Democrats almost always get.
I don’t think you have to fall back on anything nefarious here.
The bottom line is the Dems made this race a priority and the RNC/RGA did not. In a close race that is enough to win. The Dems did what they frequently do. Pull a lousy candidate over the finish line and into the winners circle. Until the GOP has a similar mindset they will continue to lose many winnable contests.
I’ve read the GOP was very very stingy on the funds for him.
yes... third party = Dem win
The GOP was the reason, they did nothing to counter the former clintoon goon...
Yea... I read the same kind of crap when Perot gave Clinton the win over Bush Sr. I don’t believe it for a second.
For those of us in Virginia, any pretense that the GOP would play ball with Conservatives has been wiped away. It WAS that bad. It will only get worse..
I agree with your first two sentences, but fail to see how they mesh with the rest of what you wrote. Virginia is still a center-right state, as it has been for 25 years, but any Republican must pick up most of the independents and moderates in the center to win a state-wide election.
Fortunately, the Virginia legislature is still mostly conservative and will be able to limit the damage that McAuliffe can do in four years.
While there were many factors that came into play, fundamentally Ken lost because of Ken.