November 7, 2013
Barone Report: Base Instinctively Ahead of GOP Establishment
C. Edmund Wright
While the Republican establishment was obsessing over the government shutdown, the evils of Ted Cruz, and the latest Jurassic media poll designed specifically to fool them, they remained blind to the massive iceberg that was about to nearly destroy the McAuliffe money machine campaign. As such, they missed a golden opportunity to nudge Ken Cuccinelli across the finish line -- an opportunity the GOP base understood. While Michael Barone did not say this in so many words, these are the inescapable conclusions of his Virginia race analysis.
That iceberg? That would be the reality of ObamaCare, as it sinks in and destroys peoples' lives and Democrat approval ratings. It's the massive all encompassing game changer that the establishment failed to capitalize on in 2012 in their rush not to offend moderate soccer moms. It's what they missed years ago when they were so embarrassed of Sarah Palin -- they doubted her wisdom on death panels. And it's the wide-open path to victory for Cuccinelli that the establishment ignored in their beltway isolation fixation on a phony government shutdown -- a preoccupation that NBC exploited with perhaps the most absurd poll in modern history.
Again, Mr. Barone has not offered this specific take, yet this is exactly the story his numbers tell.
As for ObamaCare specifics, Barone's figures show that Virginia voters disapprove by 53-45%, strangely close to the vote tally of Cuccinelli and quasi-libertarian Robert Sarvis combined. It is the only explanation for why McAuliffe's 9-point lead (according to RCP Average) of a week ago almost totally dissipated.
Which brings us to the government shutdown, one of the main reasons that the GOP establishment was convinced that Cuccinelli was a lost cause, prompting them to turn off the financial spigots and not support his campaign. Exit polls show that the shutdown blame breakdown was almost precisely what the vote total was: 47-46. In other words, it was a total non-factor.
Again, consider a translation that Barone won't make specifically: weeks ago senators Cruz and Mike Lee, the Tea Party universe, the talk radio bigs like Rush and Mark Levin, and the conservative blogs saw all of this coming. People who are not isolated inside the beltway instinctively understood what the DC establishment could not see: that the shutdown would quickly be forgotten -- and that ObamaCare was about to dominate everything.
Blind to what was about to take place, the GOP pulled money out of Virginia and allowed McAuliffe to outspend Cooch at least four to one -- and perhaps as much as ten to one. The GOP only spent a third of what they spent for McDonnell four years ago in this cycle. Even so, McAuliffe ran well behind Obama's 2012 showing and Cuccinelli was almost even with Romney's percentage -- even with Sarvis clearly siphoning a good number of votes away from the Republican. Had even a third of Sarvis voters, who were clearly anti-Obama, voted for Cuccinelli and the rest stayed home, the result would have changed.
What does all of this mean? It means just a little more financial support from the GOP establishment might have well turned the tide. Of course, that is hypothetical and forever will be. What is more demonstrable, however, is that the Tea Party base instincts on this race were way ahead of the instincts of the establishment pros.
Barone won't say so, and yet -- his figures just did. Perhaps he could review his analysis of the 2010 election, in which he admitted to being "struck by" the shocking discovery of "sharp political instincts" on the part of the Tea Party. He should remember this, as Rush had a great laugh at his expense. It is still true today.