How Virginia's Election Will Teach Republicans to Swing Right

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 6 2013 10:13 AM

How Virginia's Election Will Teach Republicans to Swing Right

My piece from Richmond and the Republican Party's "ah, well" election celebration has a rather harsher title than it probably deserves. Republicans lost, but by the end, they expected to lose—the point of the piece is that they lost by only 50,000-odd votes, and this encouraged them to think that their closing message of attacking Obamacare was a winner.

"If the election were held next Tuesday, I think Cuccinelli wins," said Brian Baker, who works with the conservative super PAC Ending Spending, which spent big on Senate races in 2012. "The election was closing fast—our polls showed that. We took a poll, the same pollster we used in the Tea Party Senate races we won in 2012, and it showed Cuccinelli down by 1. No one in the media wanted it."

Advertisement

Well, guilty. But would Obamacare be as potent in November 2014 as it was during the week when everyone was talking about losing individual insurance plans and the crashing website? "It shouldn't take that long to fix the website," said Baker, "but the underlying problems about restrictions on doctors, on costs, or rising premiums—that will be potent in 2014. Obamacare is toxic."

Republicans at the party, veterans of the campaign, were reasonably proud of going the distance after some polling had shown them down by double digits. They were also a little bitter at the lack of support from outside. The RNC, one pointed out, had spent $9 million during 2009's gubernatorial race, a blowout that never got close. It spent $3 million this time, and all on "field," not TV. And where was RNC Chairman Reince Priebus tonight? Not in Virginia—at the sure-thing Christie party in New Jersey.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 7:03 PM Once Again, a Climate Policy Hearing Descends Into Absurdity
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 7:23 PM MIT Researchers Are Using Smartphones to Interact With Other Screens
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.