VA Republicans May Have Screwed the Pooch With Cooch

When I expressed shock yesterday that WaPo’s Jennifer Rubin was more or less writing off Ken Cuccinelli’s odds of winning the Virginia governor’s race, I hadn’t been watching the race all that closely for a while. But the polls–including such thumb-on-the-scale-for-Republican outlets as Rasmussen and Harper– are unmistakably showing T-Mac opening up a lead. Indeed, you have to go back to July to find a poll that Cooch is leading.

The latest poll, from Quinnipiac, shows what’s really going on. In the month that has passed since the last Q-poll, McAuliffe’s favorable/unfavorable rating has gone from 34/33 to 38/38–not exactly gangbusters, but stable with some room for growth since 22% still hadn’t heard enough (believe it or not) about the Macker to have an opinion. Meanwhile, Cuccinelli’s favorability ratio has gone from 35/41 to 34/51, with only 13% needing to know more about the steely opponent of abortion rights, “sodomy,” and health care reform.

I don’t know if this is a product of McAuliffe’s ads, which (in NoVa at least) have focused on Cooch’s atavistic position on women’s rights, or just a gradually dawning realization that this guy makes incumbent Gov. Bob McDonnell–whom Cooch semi-openly despises as a RINO–look dreamy from a swing voter’s perspective.

It should be reasonably clear by now that a lot of Democratic voters who may not be that charged up about McAuliffe will happily go to the polls to get Cooch out of Richmond (the Great Dismal Swamp might be a good Virginia destination for him) and out of their lives, along with his wild-man running-mate Bishop E.W. Jackson. So at this point Cooch’s main source of hope is that a big chunk of the relatively high vote being pulled in polls by Libertarian Robert Sarvis will eventually break his way. I have a hard time imagining too many actual libertarians pulling the lever for the Cuccinelli/Jackson/Obenshain ticket (Obenshain being another grim Christian Right favorite running for Attorney General), so Cooch and the Virginia GOP that went along with this ticket may just be running out of luck. It’s even worse than the 2005 clunker of a campaign led by Jerry (No Relation) Kilgore.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.