Commentary Magazine


Topic: Terry McAuliffe

Why Virginia Matters (Besides the Obvious)

Republicans looking for a silver lining in last week’s Virginia elections got some bad news today: it looks like the Democratic candidate for attorney general, Mark Herring, will eke out a victory by less than 200 votes, enabling the Democrats to sweep Election Day’s major contests in that state. The current margin of victory allows the Republican candidate, Mark Obenshain, to request a recount, which the state will pay for since the margin is less than one half of one percent, according to Time.

Though obviously not as significant as the governor’s race, the attorney general gets a head start on running for governor, since Virginia governors are limited to one term. This is especially true for an attorney general when his party does not also hold the governorship of the state, since it gives him an advantage in wrangling for the party’s gubernatorial nomination in the following election. The office can also offer an attorney general a way to gain national name recognition and experience, as Ken Cuccinelli did with his role in the states’ legal charge against ObamaCare.

So it would have been a consolation prize worth having for Republicans in Virginia. Additionally, the GOP is confronting what Reid Wilson calls a “changed electorate” that enabled Terry McAuliffe to win. McAuliffe can only serve one term, so Virginians just have to make sure he doesn’t do anything crazy in that time, like sell the state at a “Clinton 2016” fundraiser or some such. But after McAuliffe leaves office, Republicans will still have to face this “changed electorate,” and do so with the momentum pulling the state into the Democrats’ column. And that changed electorate is in part about turnout–an area the Democrats excelled in during President Obama’s reelection and which the Romney campaign flubbed badly. Wilson explains:

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Republicans looking for a silver lining in last week’s Virginia elections got some bad news today: it looks like the Democratic candidate for attorney general, Mark Herring, will eke out a victory by less than 200 votes, enabling the Democrats to sweep Election Day’s major contests in that state. The current margin of victory allows the Republican candidate, Mark Obenshain, to request a recount, which the state will pay for since the margin is less than one half of one percent, according to Time.

Though obviously not as significant as the governor’s race, the attorney general gets a head start on running for governor, since Virginia governors are limited to one term. This is especially true for an attorney general when his party does not also hold the governorship of the state, since it gives him an advantage in wrangling for the party’s gubernatorial nomination in the following election. The office can also offer an attorney general a way to gain national name recognition and experience, as Ken Cuccinelli did with his role in the states’ legal charge against ObamaCare.

So it would have been a consolation prize worth having for Republicans in Virginia. Additionally, the GOP is confronting what Reid Wilson calls a “changed electorate” that enabled Terry McAuliffe to win. McAuliffe can only serve one term, so Virginians just have to make sure he doesn’t do anything crazy in that time, like sell the state at a “Clinton 2016” fundraiser or some such. But after McAuliffe leaves office, Republicans will still have to face this “changed electorate,” and do so with the momentum pulling the state into the Democrats’ column. And that changed electorate is in part about turnout–an area the Democrats excelled in during President Obama’s reelection and which the Romney campaign flubbed badly. Wilson explains:

The McAuliffe campaign had to invest heavily in digital media, Mook said, because many of the voters most likely to back the Democrat were part of groups that vote at lower rates — particularly younger voters and minorities. …

The gamble on turning out McAuliffe-friendly voters paid off: Exit polls showed the 2013 electorate was 72 percent white and 20 percent African American. Those two groups made up 78 percent and 16 percent, respectively, in 2009. Cuccinelli won white voters by a 56 percent to 36 percent margin, while McAuliffe won among blacks with 90 percent of the vote.

Younger voters, between the ages of 18 and 29, made up 13 percent of the electorate, three points higher than in 2009. Those voters gave McAuliffe a 45 percent to 40 percent edge; in 2009, younger voters chose Republican McDonnell by a 10-point margin.

So Virginia matters for all the obvious reasons: it used to be a red state; it may be a leading indicator of Republican struggles in swing states; it’s evidence the Democrats still have a superior ground game; etc. But it also matters for another reason, one that is both quantifiable and symbolic: the northern Virginia suburbs.

First, the quantifiable: as the Washington Post reports, population increases in the northern Virginia, blue-leaning counties hurt the Cuccinelli campaign in ways that portend trouble ahead for the Republicans. In three of those counties, for example, the Post explains that McAuliffe either matched, slightly exceeded, or slightly underperformed the voting percentages accrued there by Tim Kaine, the last Democrat to win the governorship eight years ago. Yet basically matching Kaine’s percentages in Fairfax, Prince William, and Loudoun counties still gave McAuliffe an extra 6,400, 7,000, and 300 or so votes respectively.

Northern Virginia is home to a sizable population of federal workers and where, according to the Hill, nearly one-third of the economy depends on the federal government. According to some estimates, there are 65,000 federal employees living in northern Virginia and 110,000 federal workers who work there. So the politics of Virginia are clearly influenced by the growth of government and people dependent on it.

And that gets to the symbolic aspect of this. The trend is understandable, but it is also an inversion of the benefits of the famous deal Thomas Jefferson and James Madison struck with Alexander Hamilton to locate the capital on the Potomac in return for the federal assumption of state debts (and a favorable accounting of such as far as Virginia was concerned). Their intentions, of course, are difficult to know. But the practical effect of locating the capital on the Potomac was to inaugurate a capital that was modest and humble, not imposing and imperialistic. As Joseph J. Ellis writes in Founding Brothers, in its early years it would easily assuage anyone’s concern about the powers of the new federal government: “It symbolized the victory of diffusion over consolidation.”

Skeptics of the federal government and the Hamilton deal wanted Madison and Jefferson to oppose it on the grounds that the debt assumption was akin to conquest by a foreign power–this new federal Leviathan, from which the states could be forgiven for contemplating secession. Ellis continues:

Jefferson and Madison claimed to share their apprehensions and their political principles, but not their secessionist impulses. Their strategy was different. They would not abandon the government, but capture it. Like the new capital, it would become an extension of Virginia, or at least the Virginia vision of what the American Revolution meant and the American republic was therefore meant to be.

The trend that carried McAuliffe to victory, and threatens to concretize in Virginia, is the opposite effect. It is the looming capture of Virginia by the federal government and the capital, and making Virginia an extension of the vision of the American republic according to the federal bureaucrat. Jefferson soon regretted the deal and his role in it, and nothing since then would likely change his mind.

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The Shutdown and the VA Governor’s Race

Some of the most vocal advocates for shutting down the federal government if the Affordable Care Act wasn’t defunded (always a delusional hope) are now blaming the Republican “establishment” for the defeat of Ken Cuccinelli in Tuesday’s race to be the next governor of Virginia. Some voices on the right are even suggesting that the “establishment” wanted Cuccinelli to lose. Why? In order to deny the Tea Party a victory.

That may (regrettably) be true in some cases. But there’s something else that complicates this theory a bit, and something which Jonathan touched on in his post. According to Cuccinelli’s own campaign, one of the factors for his loss–not the only one for sure, but one of them–was the government shutdown. Why? Because Virginia is home to hundreds of thousands of federal employees. So the shutdown succeeded in diverting attention away from the Affordable Care Act onto the government shutdown. Meaning that for a couple of crucial weeks Cuccinelli was on defense as opposed to offense. And in a close race, that could have made a difference.

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Some of the most vocal advocates for shutting down the federal government if the Affordable Care Act wasn’t defunded (always a delusional hope) are now blaming the Republican “establishment” for the defeat of Ken Cuccinelli in Tuesday’s race to be the next governor of Virginia. Some voices on the right are even suggesting that the “establishment” wanted Cuccinelli to lose. Why? In order to deny the Tea Party a victory.

That may (regrettably) be true in some cases. But there’s something else that complicates this theory a bit, and something which Jonathan touched on in his post. According to Cuccinelli’s own campaign, one of the factors for his loss–not the only one for sure, but one of them–was the government shutdown. Why? Because Virginia is home to hundreds of thousands of federal employees. So the shutdown succeeded in diverting attention away from the Affordable Care Act onto the government shutdown. Meaning that for a couple of crucial weeks Cuccinelli was on defense as opposed to offense. And in a close race, that could have made a difference.

As this story reports:

As Obamacare was about to roll out to the public on Oct. 1, Cuccinelli stepped up criticism of the new system. But the government shutdown started that same day, forcing the candidate to shift gears and pronounce his support of federal workers, even as he continued to lead followers in rousing declamations of the federal government as “the biggest opponent of them all.”

“We were debating the shutdown and not the Obamacare fight,” [Chris LaCivita, Cuccinelli’s chief campaign strategist], said.

After the election Mr. LaCivita said, “I can’t help but ask myself, what would have been the result had he had five weeks of this discussion instead of just 2½?”

A good question.

As a Virginian who proudly voted for Cuccinelli, here’s the post-election thought I have: If Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, and those who supported their efforts, hadn’t undertaken their doomed-from-the-start gambit, Mr. Cuccinelli would have done better. Whether Cuccinelli would have won if the government shutdown had never taken place is impossible to know, and in retrospect the national party could certainly have done more to help Cuccinelli. But this much is clear: advocates of the shutdown ended up temporarily helping rather than hurting ObamaCare. And in the process they lent a big assist to Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe.

Remind me again why the shutdown was such a great idea.

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The Revenge of Politics

Searching for an overarching cause of the result in last night’s Virginia gubernatorial election is going to consist mostly of Democrats and Republicans talking past each other. That’s because, to some degree, they are both right. ObamaCare’s disastrous rollout was not enough to doom Terry McAuliffe, but neither was his victory an affirmation that ObamaCare poses no real political risk to Democrats. Likewise, it seems the government shutdown hurt Ken Cuccinelli, but not enough to make Tea Party conservatism toxic in the swing state of Virginia.

Additionally, neither contender was viewed as a particularly good candidate, making it unrealistic for those on the left and right to try to make either candidate a stand-in for his national party. (Democrats seem to consider McAuliffe an embarrassment even in victory, and for good reason.) But in fact this lack of an overarching theme is a theme in itself. That is, politics–party and individual, national and local–and not ideology offers a pretty simple explanation both for the election in Virginia and the one in New Jersey, in which Republican Chris Christie won reelection in a landslide in a heavily Democratic state. Bergen County Record columnist Charles Stile explains in a lengthy, but eminently worthwhile column how Christie cruised to victory:

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Searching for an overarching cause of the result in last night’s Virginia gubernatorial election is going to consist mostly of Democrats and Republicans talking past each other. That’s because, to some degree, they are both right. ObamaCare’s disastrous rollout was not enough to doom Terry McAuliffe, but neither was his victory an affirmation that ObamaCare poses no real political risk to Democrats. Likewise, it seems the government shutdown hurt Ken Cuccinelli, but not enough to make Tea Party conservatism toxic in the swing state of Virginia.

Additionally, neither contender was viewed as a particularly good candidate, making it unrealistic for those on the left and right to try to make either candidate a stand-in for his national party. (Democrats seem to consider McAuliffe an embarrassment even in victory, and for good reason.) But in fact this lack of an overarching theme is a theme in itself. That is, politics–party and individual, national and local–and not ideology offers a pretty simple explanation both for the election in Virginia and the one in New Jersey, in which Republican Chris Christie won reelection in a landslide in a heavily Democratic state. Bergen County Record columnist Charles Stile explains in a lengthy, but eminently worthwhile column how Christie cruised to victory:

Christie’s bold leadership during Superstorm Sandy, the shrewd marketing of his Jersey tough guy persona and several important legislative accomplishments are indeed important factors in the strong support for his reelection. But while the public was seeing all of that, Christie discreetly and methodically courted Democrats with every lever of power at his disposal. By the end, many of those Democrats would supply the manpower, money or simply the photo ops for his campaign.

Long before Buono entered a race that no other Democratic contender wanted to come near, Christie had already won the campaign. While the cameras and the social-media feeds and the political pundits focused on Christie’s forceful personality, his often over-the-top comments and his welcoming embrace of President Obama after Sandy, Christie was planting the seeds for his own reelection, Demo­cratic mayor by Democratic mayor, Democratic boss by Democratic boss, Demo­cratic union leader by Democratic union leader. As the ancient Chinese military tome “The Art of War” noted, “Every battle is won before it is fought.”

That was only part of it, of course. Christie’s work to recruit Democrats to his campaign certainly helped, but his interactions with constituents were crucial to his reelection. Outside New Jersey, he is known for his made-for-YouTube confrontations. But within the state, far more powerful are the conversations Christie has with voters that aren’t YouTube-friendly.

Christie simply worked hard to make sure he was heard all around the state, and refused to accept the premise that there were any voters he couldn’t convince if given the chance. As the New York Times reports in its recap of Christie’s victory:

For example, he won over Michael Blunt, a black Democrat and mayor of Chesilhurst, a largely black borough in South Jersey, with relentless wooing. Mr. Blunt, who recalled how Mr. Christie held a town hall in his community, steered more municipal aid to it and invited him to a Juneteenth celebration, marking the end of slavery, at the State House, impressing him with his knowledge of the holiday. And the governor invited black elected officials to Drumthwacket, the governor’s mansion near Princeton, and told them how a black friend in college took him to a historically black campus to demonstrate how it felt to be in the minority.

“If a person has no problem going in enemy territory to explain his policies, that person we really need to look at,” said Mr. Blunt, who was a delegate for Mr. Obama last year.

Christie won over numerous left-leaning voters not with slogans but with classic rope-line politics. As a skilled practitioner of local politics, Christie was able to keep national politics at bay–something neither McAuliffe nor Cuccinelli was able to do.

On this point, Politico’s piece on the “six takeaways” from the Virginia race is instructive. Briefly, here are reporter James Hohmann’s six lessons, though the article is worth reading in full for Hohmann’s explanation of each:

  • Obamacare almost killed McAuliffe.

  • Cuccinelli might have won if he had more money.

  • It was a base election.

  • The gender gap mirrored the presidential.

  • Obama himself was a mixed bag.

  • The shutdown still hurt Republicans.

Two of those stand out immediately as national issues: the government shutdown hurting Cuccinelli and ObamaCare hurting McAuliffe. The fact that it was a base election, according to Hohmann, would seem to indicate that the two candidates failed precisely where Christie succeeded: convincing the unconvinced. The “gender gap” is a complicated, but obviously national issue in the context of whether it “mirrored the presidential.”

And why might Cuccinelli have won with more money? In large part because he would have been able to run more ads and compete with the negative advertising blitz that McAuliffe was able to purchase with help from big-money, out of town, national politicians (like the Clintons, who were absent from the Jersey race, and Michael Bloomberg).

Members of the House of Representatives are rarely immune from public mood swings. Governors can be, but the Virginia gubernatorial election is a reminder of how easily a statewide race can be nationalized in such a media-saturated environment.

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Is Virginia Turning Blue?

Anyone pondering the nature of the mismatch in the Virginia governor’s race need only have noted who is coming to the aid of the two candidates. Yesterday, Hillary Clinton stumped for Terry McAuliffe. Tomorrow, an even bigger name, husband Bill, will do the same. Who’s riding to the rescue of Republican Ken Cuccinelli? Rick Santorum is mobilizing a conservative “strike force” to aid a GOP candidate facing a deficit in the polls that is starting to look like it might be insurmountable. In other words McAuliffe, who leads by 17 points in the latest Rasmussen poll, may be on the verge of a decisive win that could seal Virginia’s drift from a status as a purple swing state to a blue Democratic state.

There are those who are attempting to blame Cuccinelli for this state of affairs and point out the state attorney general has suffered badly from Democratic attacks on his right-to-life positions. But this is unfair. The Cuccinelli-McAuliffe matchup at one point looked to be favorable to the Republicans. Though Democrats have piled on with every imaginable charge, Cuccinelli is actually a well-spoken conservative whose views are by no means out of step with his state. Moreover, McAuliffe remains a deeply flawed candidate whose associations with the worst elements of the Washington D.C. world of lobbyists, inside deals, and corruption should have made him vulnerable to a straight arrow like Cuccinelli (although he was tainted, if only by association, by Governor Bob McDonnell’s ethical lapses). But instead of being sunk by his record, McAuliffe is coasting to victory. The explanation for this can’t be found in an analysis of the two candidates or even their tactical campaign decisions. The swing to the left is the result of demographic changes that should have already alerted us to the fact that Virginia is now moving into the category of a fairly safe Democratic state.

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Anyone pondering the nature of the mismatch in the Virginia governor’s race need only have noted who is coming to the aid of the two candidates. Yesterday, Hillary Clinton stumped for Terry McAuliffe. Tomorrow, an even bigger name, husband Bill, will do the same. Who’s riding to the rescue of Republican Ken Cuccinelli? Rick Santorum is mobilizing a conservative “strike force” to aid a GOP candidate facing a deficit in the polls that is starting to look like it might be insurmountable. In other words McAuliffe, who leads by 17 points in the latest Rasmussen poll, may be on the verge of a decisive win that could seal Virginia’s drift from a status as a purple swing state to a blue Democratic state.

There are those who are attempting to blame Cuccinelli for this state of affairs and point out the state attorney general has suffered badly from Democratic attacks on his right-to-life positions. But this is unfair. The Cuccinelli-McAuliffe matchup at one point looked to be favorable to the Republicans. Though Democrats have piled on with every imaginable charge, Cuccinelli is actually a well-spoken conservative whose views are by no means out of step with his state. Moreover, McAuliffe remains a deeply flawed candidate whose associations with the worst elements of the Washington D.C. world of lobbyists, inside deals, and corruption should have made him vulnerable to a straight arrow like Cuccinelli (although he was tainted, if only by association, by Governor Bob McDonnell’s ethical lapses). But instead of being sunk by his record, McAuliffe is coasting to victory. The explanation for this can’t be found in an analysis of the two candidates or even their tactical campaign decisions. The swing to the left is the result of demographic changes that should have already alerted us to the fact that Virginia is now moving into the category of a fairly safe Democratic state.

Given the fact that only a few years ago, Republicans dominated the state’s politics and had a long streak of winning the state’s electoral votes, this is a startling turnabout that many in the GOP are only just now starting to comprehend. Right up until the returns indicated that Barack Obama had once again taken Virginia in last year’s presidential election, most Republicans simply assumed that Mitt Romney would take it. They though that Obama’s 2008 win was the exception and that McDonnell’s landslide win to take back the governor’s chair for the GOP (after Tim Kaine’s 2005 Democratic victory) was the rule. They were wrong. McDonnell’s victory may have been the last gasp for Virginia Republicans. It isn’t likely that anyone will assume, as many in the GOP did earlier this year, that a Republican victory is inevitable, in 2016 or 2017.

The reasons for this have little to do with Democratic canards about Cuccinelli’s supposed extremism and everything to do with the way the demography of the state has changed in recent years. Whereas in the past, the conservative-leaning southern, western, and rural areas offset the more liberal northern D.C. suburbs, that is no longer the case. Under the current circumstances, it will take an extraordinarily attractive Republican and a problematic Democrat to give the state to the GOP.

If anything, that means instead of Republican bulwark or even a true swing state, the better analogy for Virginia is Pennsylvania, a state with GOP strongholds but which is usually won by Democrats taking advantage of their massive advantage in the urban centers of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. While Republicans can win statewide races when the political winds are blowing in their direction (as they were in 2010 when even a staunch conservative like Pat Toomey was able to win a Senate seat), it will take a GOP earthquake for them to win it again in a presidential election when the Democrats are able to get a massive minority turnout. The same may hold now for Virginia. Those Republicans who are thinking a more moderate Republican could have done better than Cuccinelli are probably wrong. From now on, pundits should assume Virginia is trending blue until proven otherwise.

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McAuliffe’s Lead Should Worry GOP

Up until the returns came in last November, many Republicans were still in denial about Virginia. Barack Obama’s 2008 victory there showed that a changing population had altered the assumption that it was a reliably red state. But Bob McDonnell’s gubernatorial landslide the following year allowed Republicans to believe that the 2008 result was an anomaly. However, Obama’s narrow margin last fall made it apparent that the Old Dominion must be regarded as, at best, a purple state rather than a GOP stronghold. If there was any remaining doubt about that it, looks as if this year’s race for governor will confirm it. A new poll from Quinnipiac shows Democrat Terry McAuliffe with a six-point lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli among likely voters. While such a margin shows that the race is still competitive, it is significant given the avalanche of bad publicity in recent weeks about the Democratic candidate’s ethical shortcomings. If McAuliffe can a survive a summer of bad press and emerge with his biggest lead of the year, then he’s in good shape heading into the homestretch this fall.

McAuliffe’s ability to overcome polls that show voters are divided on the question of his honesty can be attributed in part to Cuccinelli’s reputation as a candidate of the hard right as well as the way Governor McDonnell’s serious ethical lapses have overshadowed any attention devoted to the Democratic candidate’s questionable private-sector activities. But no matter how you choose to spin the various elements that have produced a race that appears tilting to McAuliffe, the inability of Cuccinelli to overcome these factors must be put down primarily to the changing electoral landscape of Virginia. If even a tarnished candidate like McAuliffe can be this far ahead at this point in the race, it is a sign that the days of Red Virginia are at an end.

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Up until the returns came in last November, many Republicans were still in denial about Virginia. Barack Obama’s 2008 victory there showed that a changing population had altered the assumption that it was a reliably red state. But Bob McDonnell’s gubernatorial landslide the following year allowed Republicans to believe that the 2008 result was an anomaly. However, Obama’s narrow margin last fall made it apparent that the Old Dominion must be regarded as, at best, a purple state rather than a GOP stronghold. If there was any remaining doubt about that it, looks as if this year’s race for governor will confirm it. A new poll from Quinnipiac shows Democrat Terry McAuliffe with a six-point lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli among likely voters. While such a margin shows that the race is still competitive, it is significant given the avalanche of bad publicity in recent weeks about the Democratic candidate’s ethical shortcomings. If McAuliffe can a survive a summer of bad press and emerge with his biggest lead of the year, then he’s in good shape heading into the homestretch this fall.

McAuliffe’s ability to overcome polls that show voters are divided on the question of his honesty can be attributed in part to Cuccinelli’s reputation as a candidate of the hard right as well as the way Governor McDonnell’s serious ethical lapses have overshadowed any attention devoted to the Democratic candidate’s questionable private-sector activities. But no matter how you choose to spin the various elements that have produced a race that appears tilting to McAuliffe, the inability of Cuccinelli to overcome these factors must be put down primarily to the changing electoral landscape of Virginia. If even a tarnished candidate like McAuliffe can be this far ahead at this point in the race, it is a sign that the days of Red Virginia are at an end.

In a more GOP-friendly environment, McDonnell’s problems (which have put an end to any talk about him having a political future) might not be dragging Cuccinelli down. Nor would the attempts of the liberal mainstream media to tar the Republican candidate as an extremist be working quite as well if Republicans could still count on the more conservative southern and western parts of the state being able to turn out votes that could overwhelm the margins Democrats racked up in the northern districts close to Washington. But, as the last two presidential contests showed, that is no longer the case.

The Republicans may be working on the assumption that the off-year turnout for the Democrats in 2013 will resemble that of 2009 when McDonnell won rather than 2012 when large numbers of minority and young voters helped Obama hold Virginia. But the ability of a flawed and not terribly popular Democrat to stay ahead of Cuccinelli speaks not only to the Republicans’ problems but also to the fact that the state has to be seen as tilting to the left.

All politics is local, but if these numbers hold up in November, this is a very bad sign for the GOP. The conventional wisdom is that the national turnout in the 2014 midterms will be drastically down from that of 2012 and look more like the 2010 numbers when the Tea Party revolution helped generate a Republican landslide that took back the House of Representatives. That may well be the case, but the Virginia governor’s race could show that Democrats have the ability to turn out their voters in sufficient numbers to hold onto battleground states even in off-year elections.

Coming as it always does the year after the presidential election, the Virginia race is often seen as a bellwether. That will be even more the case this year since the only significant election this November—the New Jersey’s governor’s race—is a foregone conclusion with Chris Christie coasting to an easy win.

Despite the predictions of doom from the liberal press about the future of the Republican Party, 2014 looks to be a golden opportunity for the GOP to win back the Senate and set themselves up nicely for 2016. But Virginia presents an ominous indication that talk of changing demographics with larger numbers of minority voters is not merely liberal hype. Conservatives who believe their party shouldn’t worry about trying to attract Hispanics or blacks or independents need to look closely at Virginia this year and see that their assumptions about turnout may wind up being as misleading as they were last year when Romney lost. Complacence about changing demographics is a luxury Republicans can’t afford.

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McAuliffe, Cuccinelli, and Virginia’s Future

The state of Virginia has a powerful claim to be a genuine swing state worth fighting over. It has voted Democratic in the last two presidential elections, solidly Republican before that, and in the last four elections picked the eventual winner. It is home to the U.S. House majority leader, and currently has a Republican governor who succeeded a Democratic one. Additionally, its gubernatorial elections are on off-years, so the candidates must win without presidential (or congressional, for that matter) coattails.

President Obama’s two consecutive Virginia victories, combined with the influx of left-leaning voters from D.C. to the Virginia suburbs, left Democrats crowing that the state was turning blue. But Obama’s first victory there was followed almost immediately by Republican Governor Bob McDonnell’s 17-point drubbing of Democrat Creigh Deeds for what was effectively an open seat. It’s worth pointing out that McDonnell didn’t just beat Deeds. The Washington Post manufactured a story about a decades-old school paper of McDonnell’s and assaulted its readers with the story day in and day out, despite the fact that voters–get this–were basing their votes on the issues of the day and not an ancient school essay by one of the candidates. McDonnell’s victory, then, was a colossal rout.

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The state of Virginia has a powerful claim to be a genuine swing state worth fighting over. It has voted Democratic in the last two presidential elections, solidly Republican before that, and in the last four elections picked the eventual winner. It is home to the U.S. House majority leader, and currently has a Republican governor who succeeded a Democratic one. Additionally, its gubernatorial elections are on off-years, so the candidates must win without presidential (or congressional, for that matter) coattails.

President Obama’s two consecutive Virginia victories, combined with the influx of left-leaning voters from D.C. to the Virginia suburbs, left Democrats crowing that the state was turning blue. But Obama’s first victory there was followed almost immediately by Republican Governor Bob McDonnell’s 17-point drubbing of Democrat Creigh Deeds for what was effectively an open seat. It’s worth pointing out that McDonnell didn’t just beat Deeds. The Washington Post manufactured a story about a decades-old school paper of McDonnell’s and assaulted its readers with the story day in and day out, despite the fact that voters–get this–were basing their votes on the issues of the day and not an ancient school essay by one of the candidates. McDonnell’s victory, then, was a colossal rout.

But Virginia’s term limit rules mean there is no incumbent in gubernatorial elections, and November’s election is no less important to Virginia’s aspirations to be a bellwether state. It pits the smarmy, made-for-QVC Terry McAuliffe against the conservative firebrand and state attorney general Ken Cuccinelli. Polls show a close race with a narrow edge to McAuliffe, a former spokesman for Hillary Clinton.

One major difference between this race and the 2009 gubernatorial election is that this one has all the personality the previous election lacked. It is never quite clear whether McAuliffe is trying to sell you on his candidacy, a ShamWow, or some slam-dunk investment opportunity his cousin told him about virtually guaranteed to mint money. His campaign slogan might as well be “McAuliffe: Act Now!” So it isn’t a complete surprise that McAuliffe is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for his car salesmanship. As the Washington Post reported:

An electric-car company co-founded by Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe (D) is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission over its conduct in soliciting foreign investors, according to law enforcement documents and company officials.

In May, the SEC subpoenaed documents from GreenTech Automotive and bank records from a sister company, Gulf Coast Funds Management of McLean. The investigation is focused, at least in part, on alleged claims that the company “guarantees returns” to the investors, according to government documents.

GreenTech has sought overseas investors through a federal program that allows foreigners to gain special visas if they contribute at least $500,000 to create U.S. jobs. Gulf Coast, which is run by Anthony Rodham, the brother of former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, seeks investors for GreenTech and arranges the visas.

I’m guessing Clintonland isn’t exactly thrilled about this. Cuccinelli’s obstacles include getting out of the shadow of scandal thrown over McDonnell’s acceptance of gifts while in office. But he has won plaudits from conservatives for being an early and outspoken opponent at the state level of ObamaCare and for his social conservatism. As the Post reports, that is how this election is being framed thus far:

Every day, it seems, Cuccinelli’s forces find ways to portray McAuliffe as an unethical and unprincipled carpetbagger, a political opportunist who doesn’t possess the government experience or knowledge of Virginia needed for the state’s top job.

At the same time, McAuliffe’s team pounces at the chance to depict Cuccinelli as a conservative zealot who is anti-gay and anti-woman and whose views on social issues are too extreme for a state evolving into a hub of cosmopolitan life.

Cuccinelli seems to like his chances if voters internalize this characterization of the election as the social conservative vs. the traveling salesman. But it will be a consequential election either way. If McAuliffe wins, it will buoy claims of the red-to-blue trend Democrats insist is underway in Virginia. If Cuccinelli wins, it will paint the last two presidential elections as flukes and cast doubt on Democrats’ ability to win statewide without presidential coattails.

It would also show the limits of the Democrats’ obsession with “war on women” rhetoric scripted by the White House. It would not be the end of the debate over social issues in the state, however. Cuccinelli is a supporter of Virginia’s recent updates to its regulations for abortion clinics, which mandate state inspections of the clinics and upgrades to the facilities–oversight vociferously opposed by Democrats. The results of individual state elections can sometimes be under-interpreted and other times over-interpreted. Thanks to the national attention Virginia’s election is sure to draw and the issues at play, the implications of the race are in no danger of being underappreciated.

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ECI Makes Private Anger Public

This segment on ECI’s opening ad and the backlash against Obama’s Israel policy from Morning Joe should be mandatory viewing:

The domestic impact of Obama’s Israel policy and the potential influence of a group like ECI comes through clearly in that segment. First is the (unintended) comic reaction of Terry McAuliffe — “Out of bounds!” But isn’t it policy, isn’t the ad just quoting Joe Sestak’s own words? Er… um … You see the problem: Democrats are none too pleased that Obama’s Israel policy will have real consequences domestically. It wasn’t supposed to work this way, according to the Obami brain trust; is was Bibi who was supposed to crumble under political pressure.

Also interesting is Politico’s Mike Allen’s and host Joe Scarborough’s take that the ad may tap into liberal Jews’ anger over Obama’s assault on Israel. From time to time, an ad breaks through the clutter and in essence gives “permission” for dissatisfied groups to holler, “Enough!” As we’ve discussed at length, the reaction of American Jewry to Obama has, to put it mildly, been conflicted. A mix of wishful thinking (he doesn’t really mean it!), partisan loyalty, and misguided strategy (if we don’t challenge him in public, he’ll be nicer to Israel!) have dampened public criticism of Obama’s Israel policy. But the underlying unease, indeed fury, has not abated. As this and other ads circulate and as the Middle East gains prominence in the campaign, even liberal Jews may come to the realization that in the privacy of the voting booth, they can finally register their objections. Call it putting some “daylight” between themselves and a disappointing president.

Finally, this video highlights the gap in the pro-Israel community that ECI fills. A pro-Israel activist not associated with either ECI or AIPAC told me, “AIPAC is great at what they do on Capitol Hill. They have their toolbox. ECI has theirs.” It is in that regard an important division of labor in the Jewish community. Established Jewish organizations have never faced a president like this and have struggled to come up with a game plan for pushing back. They are reluctant and ill-equipped to engage in confrontational public advocacy, yet their membership fumes, “Why aren’t you doing something!” Well, along comes ECI. In essence, this alleviates the pressure on establishment Jewish leaders to do what they feel their organizations cannot.

Those who bemoan that foreign policy is “politicized” really mean that they don’t want to defend their own positions. But that’s not how democracy works. Every issue is fodder for debate. We’re now going to have a rip-roaring one on Middle East policy.

This segment on ECI’s opening ad and the backlash against Obama’s Israel policy from Morning Joe should be mandatory viewing:

The domestic impact of Obama’s Israel policy and the potential influence of a group like ECI comes through clearly in that segment. First is the (unintended) comic reaction of Terry McAuliffe — “Out of bounds!” But isn’t it policy, isn’t the ad just quoting Joe Sestak’s own words? Er… um … You see the problem: Democrats are none too pleased that Obama’s Israel policy will have real consequences domestically. It wasn’t supposed to work this way, according to the Obami brain trust; is was Bibi who was supposed to crumble under political pressure.

Also interesting is Politico’s Mike Allen’s and host Joe Scarborough’s take that the ad may tap into liberal Jews’ anger over Obama’s assault on Israel. From time to time, an ad breaks through the clutter and in essence gives “permission” for dissatisfied groups to holler, “Enough!” As we’ve discussed at length, the reaction of American Jewry to Obama has, to put it mildly, been conflicted. A mix of wishful thinking (he doesn’t really mean it!), partisan loyalty, and misguided strategy (if we don’t challenge him in public, he’ll be nicer to Israel!) have dampened public criticism of Obama’s Israel policy. But the underlying unease, indeed fury, has not abated. As this and other ads circulate and as the Middle East gains prominence in the campaign, even liberal Jews may come to the realization that in the privacy of the voting booth, they can finally register their objections. Call it putting some “daylight” between themselves and a disappointing president.

Finally, this video highlights the gap in the pro-Israel community that ECI fills. A pro-Israel activist not associated with either ECI or AIPAC told me, “AIPAC is great at what they do on Capitol Hill. They have their toolbox. ECI has theirs.” It is in that regard an important division of labor in the Jewish community. Established Jewish organizations have never faced a president like this and have struggled to come up with a game plan for pushing back. They are reluctant and ill-equipped to engage in confrontational public advocacy, yet their membership fumes, “Why aren’t you doing something!” Well, along comes ECI. In essence, this alleviates the pressure on establishment Jewish leaders to do what they feel their organizations cannot.

Those who bemoan that foreign policy is “politicized” really mean that they don’t want to defend their own positions. But that’s not how democracy works. Every issue is fodder for debate. We’re now going to have a rip-roaring one on Middle East policy.

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Bizarro World

Geraldine Ferraro sounds like Ward Connerly:

As for Reagan Democrats, how Clinton was treated is not their issue. They are more concerned with how they have been treated. Since March, when I was accused of being racist for a statement I made about the influence of blacks on Obama’s historic campaign, people have been stopping me to express a common sentiment: If you’re white you can’t open your mouth without being accused of being racist. They see Obama’s playing the race card throughout the campaign and no one calling him for it as frightening. They’re not upset with Obama because he’s black; they’re upset because they don’t expect to be treated fairly because they’re white. It’s not racism that is driving them, it’s racial resentment. And that is enforced because they don’t believe he understands them and their problems. That when he said in South Carolina after his victory “Our Time Has Come” they believe he is telling them that their time has passed.

Terry McAuliffe sounds like Rich Lowry (or Bob Dole) on Scott McClellan:

I never like it when someone works for someone and then comes out and writes a book trashing them. . . . I don’t care if it is politics or life. If he was that upset about everything, he should have quit. Remember, Gerald Ford’s press secretary quit when he disagreed with pardoning, Ford pardoning Nixon. If you don’t agree, then get out. And I just, I find it abhorrent the way these people come out and write books about their boss. It made ‘em money, it made ‘em prestige, it gave them all this power, and then they turn around and slap ‘em. I just, I gotta tell you, I just uh, I don’t care who it is — Democrat, Republican — it’s wrong.

And Bill Clinton sounds like Brent Bozell on the Leftwing media conspiracy.

Next thing you know we will find out that “Obama, a University of Chicago intellectual, is in the unlikely position of seeming to have a closed, uninquisitive mind when it comes to Iraq.” In all seriousness, when the Democratic party lurches so far to the left (with the assistance and urging of much of the mainstream media), the political landscape may be so scrambled that the Clintons, Terry McAuliffe and Geraldine Ferraro–exemplars of the Democratic establishment with a political memory longer than a week–start sounding sane in comparison.

Geraldine Ferraro sounds like Ward Connerly:

As for Reagan Democrats, how Clinton was treated is not their issue. They are more concerned with how they have been treated. Since March, when I was accused of being racist for a statement I made about the influence of blacks on Obama’s historic campaign, people have been stopping me to express a common sentiment: If you’re white you can’t open your mouth without being accused of being racist. They see Obama’s playing the race card throughout the campaign and no one calling him for it as frightening. They’re not upset with Obama because he’s black; they’re upset because they don’t expect to be treated fairly because they’re white. It’s not racism that is driving them, it’s racial resentment. And that is enforced because they don’t believe he understands them and their problems. That when he said in South Carolina after his victory “Our Time Has Come” they believe he is telling them that their time has passed.

Terry McAuliffe sounds like Rich Lowry (or Bob Dole) on Scott McClellan:

I never like it when someone works for someone and then comes out and writes a book trashing them. . . . I don’t care if it is politics or life. If he was that upset about everything, he should have quit. Remember, Gerald Ford’s press secretary quit when he disagreed with pardoning, Ford pardoning Nixon. If you don’t agree, then get out. And I just, I find it abhorrent the way these people come out and write books about their boss. It made ‘em money, it made ‘em prestige, it gave them all this power, and then they turn around and slap ‘em. I just, I gotta tell you, I just uh, I don’t care who it is — Democrat, Republican — it’s wrong.

And Bill Clinton sounds like Brent Bozell on the Leftwing media conspiracy.

Next thing you know we will find out that “Obama, a University of Chicago intellectual, is in the unlikely position of seeming to have a closed, uninquisitive mind when it comes to Iraq.” In all seriousness, when the Democratic party lurches so far to the left (with the assistance and urging of much of the mainstream media), the political landscape may be so scrambled that the Clintons, Terry McAuliffe and Geraldine Ferraro–exemplars of the Democratic establishment with a political memory longer than a week–start sounding sane in comparison.

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Who’s Out Of Touch?

Watching MSNBC last night, I enjoyed the spectacle of Terry McAuliffe, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, arguing with Chris Matthews. McAuliffe insisted that the media had written Clinton off and was trying to shut down the race, while Matthews insisted the media would like nothing better than a race that would go all the way to the convention. Huh? Hasn’t every pundit and anchor on his network and all the others pronounced Clinton dead– since about March? It seems odd now to insist that they have not been trying desperately to sweep Clinton off the stage. And they say Clinton is in a world of denial.

But the media stampede to end the primary (whether you attribute it to Obama-infatuation or sheer boredom) only makes Barack Obama’s thumping yesterday seem worse. If the race is “over” and he still managed to lose this big, it must mean those voters really don’t like him (and they don’t care what the media says).

That said, will Obama win? Absent some huge intervening event, almost certainly, yes. He just hasn’t won yet. The media made the mistake of calling the game too soon. As a result, they’ve only helped embarrass their favorite-son candidate.

Watching MSNBC last night, I enjoyed the spectacle of Terry McAuliffe, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, arguing with Chris Matthews. McAuliffe insisted that the media had written Clinton off and was trying to shut down the race, while Matthews insisted the media would like nothing better than a race that would go all the way to the convention. Huh? Hasn’t every pundit and anchor on his network and all the others pronounced Clinton dead– since about March? It seems odd now to insist that they have not been trying desperately to sweep Clinton off the stage. And they say Clinton is in a world of denial.

But the media stampede to end the primary (whether you attribute it to Obama-infatuation or sheer boredom) only makes Barack Obama’s thumping yesterday seem worse. If the race is “over” and he still managed to lose this big, it must mean those voters really don’t like him (and they don’t care what the media says).

That said, will Obama win? Absent some huge intervening event, almost certainly, yes. He just hasn’t won yet. The media made the mistake of calling the game too soon. As a result, they’ve only helped embarrass their favorite-son candidate.

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A Dignity Promotion For Hillary Clinton

Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Congressman and former Bill Clinton aide, didn’t like Ted Kennedy taking a shot at Hillary Clinton. Kennedy, you may recall, said Clinton wouldn’t make a good VP pick because someone with “nobler aspirations” was needed. Emanuel said of Kennedy:“The gratuitous attack on her is uncalled for and wrong. He is a better senator than that comment reveals.”(H/T The Page) You don’t have to agree with the second sentence to think the first is on the mark.

We are now moving into the phase of the campaign where everyone gets their free swing at Hillary. As Cokie Roberts observed, much of the surrogate and media chatter has been “anything but respectful.” It may be emotionally satisfying for Obama supporters and media doyennes. And goodness knows both Clintons have definitely asked for some of the retaliatory shots.

But unless you are supporting John McCain, there is one big problem with all this Clinton-bashing: this is the last thing Barack Obama needs. Clinton, not surprisingly, is using it to whip up a backlash, hoping to ride it to big wins in West Virginia and Kentucky, which will prolong her run. And the Clintons don’t need much more encouragement to drag their feet and withhold full-throated support for Obama when the race does end. Her supporters, meanwhile, are acquiring yet another reason to resent Obama. Terry McAuliffe sounded the warning on Meet The Press:

She has 16.6 million very passionate supporters. We want to make sure at the end of this process, Tim, we as Democrats are all together. Sometimes we like to drive that car over the cliff of the Democratic Party. This is a very fragile time.

So Obama, the candidate who thinks our most vile enemies deserve a dignity promotion, might want to make sure his supporters grant one to his Democratic rival. After all, Obama’s sometime policy advisor Samantha Power tells us “I don’t think anyone in the foreign-policy community has as much an appreciation of the value of dignity as Obama does.” If he fails to demonstrate that he really understands this in a context closer to home (and makes sure his followers execute that policy with regard to Clinton), he’ll have failed in his first significant diplomatic effort. And, I suspect, come to regret it deeply.

Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Congressman and former Bill Clinton aide, didn’t like Ted Kennedy taking a shot at Hillary Clinton. Kennedy, you may recall, said Clinton wouldn’t make a good VP pick because someone with “nobler aspirations” was needed. Emanuel said of Kennedy:“The gratuitous attack on her is uncalled for and wrong. He is a better senator than that comment reveals.”(H/T The Page) You don’t have to agree with the second sentence to think the first is on the mark.

We are now moving into the phase of the campaign where everyone gets their free swing at Hillary. As Cokie Roberts observed, much of the surrogate and media chatter has been “anything but respectful.” It may be emotionally satisfying for Obama supporters and media doyennes. And goodness knows both Clintons have definitely asked for some of the retaliatory shots.

But unless you are supporting John McCain, there is one big problem with all this Clinton-bashing: this is the last thing Barack Obama needs. Clinton, not surprisingly, is using it to whip up a backlash, hoping to ride it to big wins in West Virginia and Kentucky, which will prolong her run. And the Clintons don’t need much more encouragement to drag their feet and withhold full-throated support for Obama when the race does end. Her supporters, meanwhile, are acquiring yet another reason to resent Obama. Terry McAuliffe sounded the warning on Meet The Press:

She has 16.6 million very passionate supporters. We want to make sure at the end of this process, Tim, we as Democrats are all together. Sometimes we like to drive that car over the cliff of the Democratic Party. This is a very fragile time.

So Obama, the candidate who thinks our most vile enemies deserve a dignity promotion, might want to make sure his supporters grant one to his Democratic rival. After all, Obama’s sometime policy advisor Samantha Power tells us “I don’t think anyone in the foreign-policy community has as much an appreciation of the value of dignity as Obama does.” If he fails to demonstrate that he really understands this in a context closer to home (and makes sure his followers execute that policy with regard to Clinton), he’ll have failed in his first significant diplomatic effort. And, I suspect, come to regret it deeply.

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The Hillary-Rove Axis

Maybe it’s time for Andrew Sullivan to take one of his mental health breaks. Within the span of one hour today he wrote 4 posts about the nefarious Hillary Clinton-Karl Rove alliance.

Hillary and Rove are, it’s true, both calculating, no-holds-barred political animals, and–as our crack intern Jacob has pointed out–they do both want to see Barack Obama lose. So, Sullivan’s assertion that the two are somehow in cahoots is, at least, conceptually viable. The problem is, he points to nothing resembling evidence whatsoever: Terry McAuliffe’s correctly pointing out that Fox News was first in calling Pennsylvania for Hillary; Rove correctly pointing out that if votes from Michigan and Florida are counted, then Hillary has the popular vote lead; and a North Carolina GOP ad slamming Obama.

If Sullivan wants to check up on what Karl Rove is saying about Hillary, he might read this piece from today’s Wall Street Journal, in which Rove writes:

Mrs. Clinton started as a deeply flawed candidate: the palpable and unpleasant sense of entitlement, the absence of a clear and optimistic message, the grating personality impatient to be done with the little people and overly eager for a return to power, real power, the phoniness and the exaggerations. These problems have not diminished over the long months of the contest. They have grown. She started out with the highest negatives of any major candidate in an open race for the presidency and things have only gotten worse.

Then again, maybe this is just another uncanny display of Rove’s bottomless talent for deception and misdirection.

Maybe it’s time for Andrew Sullivan to take one of his mental health breaks. Within the span of one hour today he wrote 4 posts about the nefarious Hillary Clinton-Karl Rove alliance.

Hillary and Rove are, it’s true, both calculating, no-holds-barred political animals, and–as our crack intern Jacob has pointed out–they do both want to see Barack Obama lose. So, Sullivan’s assertion that the two are somehow in cahoots is, at least, conceptually viable. The problem is, he points to nothing resembling evidence whatsoever: Terry McAuliffe’s correctly pointing out that Fox News was first in calling Pennsylvania for Hillary; Rove correctly pointing out that if votes from Michigan and Florida are counted, then Hillary has the popular vote lead; and a North Carolina GOP ad slamming Obama.

If Sullivan wants to check up on what Karl Rove is saying about Hillary, he might read this piece from today’s Wall Street Journal, in which Rove writes:

Mrs. Clinton started as a deeply flawed candidate: the palpable and unpleasant sense of entitlement, the absence of a clear and optimistic message, the grating personality impatient to be done with the little people and overly eager for a return to power, real power, the phoniness and the exaggerations. These problems have not diminished over the long months of the contest. They have grown. She started out with the highest negatives of any major candidate in an open race for the presidency and things have only gotten worse.

Then again, maybe this is just another uncanny display of Rove’s bottomless talent for deception and misdirection.

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Super Fight

If the deadlock between lunch-box Democrats and Bill Bradley Democrats (the former Hillary Clinton’s base and the latter Barack Obama’s) cannot be broken with a new flood of money or by an influx of independent voters freed up from a decided Republican race, will the super-delegates–796 quintessential Washington insiders–decide who the Democratic nominee will be? Figures as diverse as David Brooks and Nancy Pelosi have suggested they will. This raises two questions: who will this favor and is this a good way to pick a President.

You might imagine at first blush that Clinton (who to date has secured a lead of 211-128 among the super-delegates) would like nothing better than a smoke-filled room to settle the matter. However, Washington insiders can read polls. And it is clear that Obama, at least now, stacks up better against John McCain than does Clinton. Moreover, the number of Obama’s red-state backers (from Tom Daschle to Claire McCaskill to Janet Napolitano) have made clear that they view him as the one capable of creating a governing majority. So, counterintuitive as it may be, if the nomination is really at stake I think Obama may have the upper hand.

As to the second issue, the smoke-filled rooms were what years of political party rule “reform” was supposed to banish. Like most campaign reform, the law of unintended consequences looms large here. Years of fiddling by legions of rule committees and the more recent effort by Terry McAuliffe, longtime Clinton confidant and now campaign chairman, to create the perfect system (to benefit a supposedly strong front-runner like Clinton) may result in the perfect mess. It is hard to imagine that the loser and his/her backers would not go away very, very mad if a gang of Washington pols decided the nomination. The bitterness and recriminations, not to imagine the back-room deals needed to cobble together a victory, would consume the media and the party. The prospect is an inviting one for the GOP (which explains all the e-mails I receive from GOP types gloating at the possibility of just such an outcome): it would make the GOP’s current intra-party squabbles look like a Zen encounter group.

If the deadlock between lunch-box Democrats and Bill Bradley Democrats (the former Hillary Clinton’s base and the latter Barack Obama’s) cannot be broken with a new flood of money or by an influx of independent voters freed up from a decided Republican race, will the super-delegates–796 quintessential Washington insiders–decide who the Democratic nominee will be? Figures as diverse as David Brooks and Nancy Pelosi have suggested they will. This raises two questions: who will this favor and is this a good way to pick a President.

You might imagine at first blush that Clinton (who to date has secured a lead of 211-128 among the super-delegates) would like nothing better than a smoke-filled room to settle the matter. However, Washington insiders can read polls. And it is clear that Obama, at least now, stacks up better against John McCain than does Clinton. Moreover, the number of Obama’s red-state backers (from Tom Daschle to Claire McCaskill to Janet Napolitano) have made clear that they view him as the one capable of creating a governing majority. So, counterintuitive as it may be, if the nomination is really at stake I think Obama may have the upper hand.

As to the second issue, the smoke-filled rooms were what years of political party rule “reform” was supposed to banish. Like most campaign reform, the law of unintended consequences looms large here. Years of fiddling by legions of rule committees and the more recent effort by Terry McAuliffe, longtime Clinton confidant and now campaign chairman, to create the perfect system (to benefit a supposedly strong front-runner like Clinton) may result in the perfect mess. It is hard to imagine that the loser and his/her backers would not go away very, very mad if a gang of Washington pols decided the nomination. The bitterness and recriminations, not to imagine the back-room deals needed to cobble together a victory, would consume the media and the party. The prospect is an inviting one for the GOP (which explains all the e-mails I receive from GOP types gloating at the possibility of just such an outcome): it would make the GOP’s current intra-party squabbles look like a Zen encounter group.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: What Hillary Does That Obama Can’t Do

What was notable about Hillary Clinton’s victory speech tonight was what was missing: No sign of her husband, or Madeleine Albright, or Terry McAuliffe, or the rest of the Democratic Sopranos who had been so notably on stage behind her in Iowa. Obama in Iowa talked about “this moment.” Tonight, Clinton talked about “this moment of big challenges.” She is substance over theory. She quickly got into the quicksand where Obama dares not tread: College loans, housing foreclosures. Her “promise of America” is her answer to Obama’s “hope and change.” She argues for American credibility and ending the war “the right way.” She is getting out of the Iowa and New Hampshire pandering and moving back to the center. This was a gracious, patriotic, confident, American victory lap speech.

What was notable about Hillary Clinton’s victory speech tonight was what was missing: No sign of her husband, or Madeleine Albright, or Terry McAuliffe, or the rest of the Democratic Sopranos who had been so notably on stage behind her in Iowa. Obama in Iowa talked about “this moment.” Tonight, Clinton talked about “this moment of big challenges.” She is substance over theory. She quickly got into the quicksand where Obama dares not tread: College loans, housing foreclosures. Her “promise of America” is her answer to Obama’s “hope and change.” She argues for American credibility and ending the war “the right way.” She is getting out of the Iowa and New Hampshire pandering and moving back to the center. This was a gracious, patriotic, confident, American victory lap speech.

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