Recriminations in Virginia

by Ramesh Ponnuru

When the defeat is narrow, every plausible explanation is right. It looks as though Cuccinelli would have won if the national party had given him more money, or he had been better at raising it, or he had a record that was slightly less easy to caricature, or he had defended it against the caricature, or he had gone after McAuliffe’s social extremism. The “party establishment” (to simplify) is putting some of the blame on the shutdown, and the anti-establishment conservatives are putting a lot of the blame on the former’s stinginess; Cuccinelli’s campaign manager is blaming both. The results in the state legislative races, and the possible victory of Mark Obenshain in the AG race, make it hard to credit any theory that the Virginia electorate is just hostile to conservatism in general, or to social conservatism in particular.

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