McAuliffe didn't win a landslide, so Obamacare is in trouble
In what world does that make sense?
It had been 36 years since the party holding the White House won a Virginia governor's race. Yet despite running a flawed candidate in an off-off-year election when already bad Democratic base voter performance is even worse than usual, Democrats won. So no, this isn't a sign that Obamacare is trouble, it's a sign that demographics are destiny, and things like Obamacare and gun control and cap and trade can no longer doom Democrats in swingy tough districts and states.
Exit polls showed Obamacare unpopular
It's true! Virginia exit polls show that voters disapproved of Obamacare by a 53-46 margin. However, McAuliffe won 11 percent of the "disapprove" crowd. Why? Because as we've seen with other polling, about 1 in 10 liberals oppose the law as a complicated mess that rewards the incumbent insurance companies. Heck, the rocky implementation vindicates those of us who argued for a simpler "Medicare for All" or public option. But whatever the merits of liberal disapproval of the new law, that doesn't mean that crowd wants to kill it, or will reward Republicans for their holy crusade against it.
If you want to believe McAuliffe's pollster, Cuccinelli's extreme opposition to the law ended up hurting him.
The GOP establishment abandoned Cuccinelli!
Recriminations are flying fast and furious in the right over last night's loss, with conservatives declaring themselves the victims of a brutal abandonment by their establishment. Democrat Barbara Buono can make that argument in New Jersey. Conservatives in Virginia cannot. The RGA spent over $8 million in the race, including $3 million in direct contributions, while the RNC threw in another $3 million. Now Cooch was a shitty fundraiser -- raising just $12 million to McAuliffe's $28 million. So yes, Cuccinelli was outspent, but not because the establishment abandoned him, but because he couldn't do something Republicans never have a problem doing: raising money in a state with no contribution limits.
That said, the fact that McAuliffe won so narrowly despite the big fundraising advantage provides further evidence of my developing theory that money no longer buys votes like it used to. McAuliffe "blanketed the waves" with ads, but who is left that doesn't skip past them or simply tune them out? You need a base level of presence so people know you exist, but the point of diminishing returns is now much lower. Campaigns are pissing away too much money on TV.
Cuccinelli won independents, hence Dems are in trouble!
According to the exit polls, McAuliffe lost independents 47-38. And ... so what? As I've long maintained, there are more of us than there are of them, and this proves it. McAuliffe ran an explicitly base mobilization strategy and won, because there are more us than them. Obama lost independents too. So what? What matters is winning, not whether teabaggers pretending to be "independent" swing one way or the other.
If you want something that means more, well, McAuliffe won "moderates" 56-34. The Democratic Party is still the party of the non-crazies.
Republicans won a supermajority in the House of Delegates
Yes, they did. That's what gerrymandering allows, giving their majority about as much significance as the GOP's majority in the U.S. House.
But this was one of the evening's heartbreaks, with Democratic challengers hitting at least 48 percent in seven districts. We got a net one-seat pickup in the House, but came within inches of a 16-seat swing. Dems ended up within single digits of the incumbent in 12 seats. Them's the breaks, but it shows that we aren't far from slicing off the bulk of the GOP's edge in that chamber. What do you say we give it a real shot in 2015?