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.
Liberal Democrats did NOT vote for Sarvis...
Moderate REPUBLICANS, did....
Strange numbers in this poll. 13% of people who claimed to be “Conservative”, voted for McCauliffe??
I think, the ONLY WAY that happens is... voter fraud.
Or, bad questions from the pollsters and/or respondents who don’t define political labels very well.
That's the bottom line. He was a badly flawed candidate. If you can't beat an odious creep like McAuliffe, you have other important issues besides campaign funding and the presence of a Libertarian on the ballot.
“Strange numbers in this poll. 13% of people who claimed to be ‘Conservative’, voted for McCauliffe??”
I agree that’s a strange statistic.
The opinions of anyone that does not live here is worthless. If you were subjected to the onslaught of unanswered negative campaigning you would know it was a one sided battle. Jesus himself would have lost to McA$$wipe under these circumstances. As bad as the GOP didn’t want it the DEMON Party REALLY WANTED THIS ONE.
Perhaps, but where was the TEA Party money? I don’t think that tells the whole story. If the TEA Party candidates or conservatives in general want to play ball, they need to learn how. If you want the milk you must play nice with mommy.
“he opinions of anyone that does not live here is worthless.”
I am a native Virginian, and travel to the Old Dominion six or seven times a year to visit friends and family (including our daughter) who live there. I follow Virginia politics very closely, and have an understanding of the culture, demographics, and political geography of the state. I have lived in Central Virginia, on the Peninsula, and (twice) in Northern Virginia. If you don’t value my opinions, that’s fine with me; don’t read them.
You know.. if you look at these cross-tabs, the numbers make NO SENSE! Cuccinelli wins in almost all of them.. yet, he somehow LOST the overall??
Look at the support/oppose Obamacare numbers...
Look at the Important Issues numbers??
WTF is going on??
I think, you'd be more accurate to say: "The opinions of anyone who does not live here are worth less".
Living in the state where and election is held greatly improves the understanding of any analyst. But, election experts (Not me) can learn much from reviewing actual results.
YOU DID RECEIVE THE CONSTANT ANTI CUCH PROPAGANDA SINCE JULY. THE CONSTANT BEATING UP OF CUCH. YOU DID NOT EXPERIENCE IT. GET IT?
I am no spring chicken, the scale of this media blitz was something I have never seen before. It was UFB.
It was all about the money and the constant personal attack. If you don’t live here then your opinion is just like the pore between you legs.
Cuccinelli won the independent vote by 9 points.
Exactly right. If I needed any final straw to make me repudiate the filthy, traitorous GOPe---and I didn't---this would have done it.
Not at all. It's impossible to get your message out when your campaign is broke and the RNC turns its back.
Not when you throw in the "Libertarian" vote.
I can imagine... I'm seeing something like it NOW, by McConnell against Bevin, his Tea Party Challenger. And we're 8 months away from the primary!
Judging by the numbers, Tea Party supporters did NOT go Libertarian...
But, many "moderate" Republicans did.. and, a surprisingly high number of Republicans voted for McAulliffe, primarily because, they DID NOT LIKE Cuccoo.
Those are the tell-tale signs of:
1) A successful media mud slinging campaign, and/or
2) Fraudulent vote counting.
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