A Hard Road for Cuccinelli
The prospects for the gubernatorial candidate are dim, but not nil.


Betsy Woodruff

Things could look brighter for Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s attorney general and Republican gubernatorial nominee. You don’t have to be Nate Silver to figure out that the last few months’ polls have largely been bad news for him, ranging from not-optimal (not trailing as badly as he had been!) to apocalyptic. But Virginia Republicans are holding out hope, and conversations with a range of the Commonwealth’s political insiders show a broad consensus about the AG’s prospects: His chances of victory, while bleak, aren’t nonexistent.

Here’s a potential path, as laid out by onlookers:

First, insiders who spoke with National Review Online concurred that a low turnout would be great news for the Republican candidate. “If turnout is under 40 percent and around 30 percent, then Cuccinelli could be the next governor,” says one Virginia GOP operative.

Another Republican insider says that the working theory has been that the lower the turnout, the better. Both campaigns have drawn criticism for running negative ads — most recently when the Roanoke Times refused to endorse anyone in the contest, saying the tone of the election had been one of “sordid filth” — but this kind of messiness could be a boon for Cooch, because negative campaigns typically result in lower voter turnout

Cuccinelli’s supporters are much more devoted than Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s, adds one Old Dominion operative. “That’s always been the theory of the case, even going back to March,” says the operative, “is that these voters are more motivated, they love Cuccinelli, they will vote for him come Hell or high water. Whereas McAuliffe voters are a mile wide and an inch deep.”

And Charles Judd, the chairman of the Virginia Board of Elections, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch on October 27 that he expects turnout to be 30 percent or less because of “apparent voter apathy,” which means a real opening for Cuccinelli.