Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The First Sign of Fall

This isn’t an election year in the sense that we’re voting for Congress or a president next month, but there are two states, Virginia and New Jersey, that are electing governors in November, and they might be seen as a precursor to what fortune might befall the parties when a full election comes around next year.

In Virginia, it’s getting very interesting.

Two weeks from Election Day in Virginia, most observers are getting very comfortable with the idea that Terry McAuliffe will overcome the powerful myth that the party controlling the White House always loses gubernatorial races in the Commonwealth (based on the outcomes of the last nine contests) and beat Republican Ken Cuccinelli, mainly because of Cooch’s extremism but aided by a backlash against the government shutdown engineered by his partisan and ideological friends up the road in D.C.

But today’s Rasmussen poll from Virginia is still startling: it shows T-Mac opening up a 17 point lead on Cooch (50/33, with 8% for Libertarian Robert Sarvis). This is a poll of likely voters, BTW, so it shows a race not terribly vulnerable to surprising turnout patterns.

It’s no secret that Mr. McAuliffe is not a beloved candidate even by folks in his own party.  I’m sure it’s nothing personal; he’s just not a deft campaigner like his old boss, Bill Clinton.  (But then, who is?)  He has the advantage of running against someone who is even more unlikeable in the extreme, and in a race like that, the lesser of the scary ones wins.

In New Jersey, Chris Christie is ahead by a mile.  This will set up an interesting dynamic for 2016 when he is more than likely to make a run for the presidency by portraying himself as the sensible moderate in the field.  The fact that he’s only moderate when compared to people like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio makes it all relative, but this sets the field for a knock-down between the right and the far right.  Throw in Rick Santorum and Rand Paul and you’ll have a race that makes the Jerry Springer show look like Book TV on C-SPAN.

Which means the Democrats could run Alan Grayson and have a real chance of winning.