Josh Kraushaar's post on Capitol Hill Insiders | Latest updates on Sulia
Our @NJHotline analysis today goes contra-CW: #VAGOV race is still up for grabs.
If conventional wisdom determined elections, Ken Cuccinelli (R) would be toast. Cook, Rothenberg and Virginia's own Sabato all have declared the Virginia governor's race in Terry McAuliffe's (D) favor. Politico piles on today, quoting anonymous GOP officials all but giving up on the Republican nominee.
-- All those judgments reflect the zeitgeist of the moment, but unlike political junkies, voters don't follow race developments until much later. In 2009, McAuliffe looked like a lock for the Dem nomination. But after a barrage of attacks, McAuliffe faded fast in the campaign's final week, barely avoiding a last-place finish.
-- McAuliffe is lucky to be facing a highly-flawed opponent in Cuccinelli. The GOPer's outspoken social conservatism has turned off women and moderates. But McAuliffe faces an equally difficult challenge: Passing the credibility test as governor. Voters are still making their mind up about T-Mac, and he still hasn't made the sell.
-- Today's revelation that McAuliffe, in a candidate interview with a NoVa tech group, sounded uninformed with business issues, is consistent with his biggest vulnerability -- credibility. The fact that his camp panicked about a little-known group's endorsement suggests this race is far from over, and McAuliffe's positioning as the "business candidate" is rooted as much in PR as reality.
McAuliffe holds a small lead, according to both internal and public polls. But McAuliffe is also less known than Cuccinelli, and that's fraught with risk. If he can pass the competency test, he'll probably be Virginia's next governor. But he's got a long way to go.