Election Preview: Christie Cruising, Cuccinnelli Trails McAuliffe in VA

Posted: Nov 04, 2013 4:35 PM

Voters in New Jersey and Virginia will head to the polls tomorrow for the two states' quadrennial off-year elections. In solid blue Jersey, the Republican incumbent is expected to win in a blowout. In purple Virginia, Democrats are favored to re-take the governor's mansion. Let's start with Chris Christie, who has maintained a stranglehold on his massive lead for months on end. Quinnipac's final poll of the contest gives the governor a whopping 61-33 lead over his utterly hapless Democratic opponent, Barbara Buono. Some nuggets from the statewide survey:

- Christie commands 94 percent support among Republicans, leads independents by 35 points, and is peeling off 30 percent of Democrats.

- Christie performs well across all demographics: Men (+37), women (+21), low income voters (+12), and middle class voters (+38). He holds the lead with young voters (+17), and is attracting one-third of African-Americans.

- The incumbent's personal favorability rating remains a sky-high 64/29. His opponent's favorables are upside-down, with nearly four in ten likely voters responding that they don't know enough about her (!) to give an opinion either way.

A Christie win is a fait accompli. The remaining drama is on style points and tea leaves: Will he crack 60 percent? What percentage of the Hispanic vote will he carry? And what would a smashing victory mean for his future prospects? Unsurprisingly, the candidate has an opinion on that last question:

Christie is trying to win by the biggest possible margin and show that, despite his conservative positions, he can attract support from constituencies long tied to the Democrats. “I said this to the RNC last summer,” Christie said aboard his bus later that day, referring to the Republican National Committee, “I’m in this to win, because if you don’t win, you can’t govern. If you can’t govern, you can’t move the country, the state, the city — whatever you’re running for — in the direction it needs to be moved in. I think we’ve had too many people [in the Republican Party] who’ve become less interested in winning an election and more interested in winning an argument.” ... Christie’s goal Tuesday is more than just a big margin of victory. He wants to show that he can draw support from Hispanics and African Americans and from Democrats generally; he said his party has been inconsistent in its outreach to those groups. Christie said: “If we don’t get instant gratification, we walk away. I’ve worked for the last four years to build relationships with these folks. That’s the way you broaden the party, over a long period of time, to build relationships. And, ultimately, that’s the way you govern.”

He expounded on these thoughts here. Meanwhile in the Old Dominion state, Democrats' ethically-challenged party-insider failed-businessman nominee, Terry McAuliffe, appears to be on the verge of victory. Today's Q-poll gives McAuliffe a six-point advantage over Republican Ken Cuccinelli. The candidates are tied among independents, and Cuccinelli has a small lead with men. But it's a yawning gender gap that's killing the GOP's standard-bearer; McAuliffe leads likely female voters by 14 points. (Are these women cool with, or even aware of, this?) Democrats defined Cuccinelli early and often as a hardcore conservative who's intent on outlawing birth control pills. They've also swamped any efforts at push-back. Last week alone, McAuliffe's campaign outspent Cuccinelli's by a whopping ten-to-one margin on television ads. (Liberal whinging about "the corrosive influence of money in politics" has been put on hold for the moment). Cuccinelli hasn't led in any poll since July. Neither candidate is especially well-liked by Virginians, so tomorrow's turnout could be rather low. In this home stretch, Cuccinelli has tried to turn the election into a referendum on Obamacare, but he's struggling to get his message out. McAuliffe has hosted a series of high-profile guests to stump on his behalf, including President and Hillary Clinton, as well as President Obama and Vice President Biden. Curiously absent from these rallies? Mentions of Obamacare. If the polling holds, Virginians are on the precipice of electing a governor who has demonstrated a remarkably weak grasp on the job he's about to hold. But hey, he loves birth control. So there's that.

We'll have full coverage and analysis of both races tomorrow evening. Polls close in Virginia at 7pm ET, and one hour later in New Jersey.

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