Politics is in the eye of the beholder.
Post-mortems now gushing forth about why Ken Cuccinelli, conservative Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, lost to Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a business-as-usual political retread from the Clinton crowd, tell us more about who produces this punditry than what reality actually might be.
We’re hearing that the Tea Party killed Cuccinelli (according to the Wall Street Journal editorial page they “stabbed him in the back”) with the government shutdown and that, once again, a socially conservative Republican candidate has shown he can’t win the votes of women.
What I see is very different. What I see is a Republican Party that still has not learned the necessary lessons to reverse setbacks of recent years.
It was not the Tea Party that stabbed Ken Cuccinelli in the back but the establishment of his own party. Once a real conservative candidate gets nominated, the party loses interest. And because they lose interest, they hold back funds, thus assuring their own prediction that this candidate can’t win.
Cuccinelli lagged in total funding by $14 million. In the early months of the campaign, because of lack of funding, he was brutally attacked in ads that went unanswered.
Regarding the shutdown – supposedly of disproportionate impact because so many Northern Virginians work for the federal government – Cuccinelli was well behind in the polls for months before the shutdown even occurred. Again, largely because of unanswered attack ads.
The Republican establishment can’t seem to grasp that they would have helped their cause by embracing the de-fund ObamaCare efforts of Tea Partiers Ted Cruz and Mike Lee.
Every day Americans see more clearly what a disaster ObamaCare – the Affordable Care Act – is. If Republican leadership would have unified clearly around the efforts of Cruz and Lee, and the American people got a clear picture of Republican unity and commitment to slay the ObamaCare monster, it would have helped the party and Cuccinelli.
It is also clear that Republicans still haven’t gotten the message about race and the changing demographics of the country.
When Barack Obama won the presidency in 2012 while winning just 38 percent of the white vote, Republicans supposedly learned something.
Those lessons appear to have been lost in Virginia.
Virginia has a large black population, 50 percent higher than the national average. Terry McAuliffe got 90% of the black vote, as did Creigh Deeds, the Democratic candidate for governor in Virginia in 2009.