Part of the media buzz surrounding the Virginia gubernatorial race is about what it will “mean.” It’s not enough, particularly for national political reporters, to speculate on what it will mean for Virginia; no, that’s small potatoes.
Partially because it’s impossible to get excited about either Ken Cuccinelli or Terry McAuliffe (unless you are a staffer or family member) and because there is no other competitive race with national implications this year (whether New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wins by, say, 18 or 25 points doesn’t much matter), pundits feel compelled to tell us what implications the race will have for 2014.
If McAuliffe wins, we’ll hear:
This is a win for the Clintons. The concerns about their cronyism and self-dealing are media-centric.
The GOP is in crack-up mode. It’s a prisoner of the far right that has made it into a minority party in a state becoming more moderate and diverse. It’s a microcosm for the country.
Social issues are deadly for the GOP. If Cuccinelli hadn’t been such a radical on everything from divorce to gay rights to abortion, he’d be packing for the governor’s mansion.
President Obama is back! The contrarianism that helped boost Gov. Bob McDonnell into office in 2009 as a reaction to Obama is gone.
The left is feeble. Once presented with a choice between a pro-business, slick-business Democrat and a conservative Republican, they always will show up in droves for the Democrat. Liberals always line up with corporate business interests when the chips are down. The Democratic Party can take the left for granted; the latter will support anything the party dishes up.
The tea party is dead.
If Cuccinelli wins, we’ll hear:
The tea party lives!
Social issues don’t hinder the GOP.
The Clintons are in deep trouble; cronyism is their soft underbelly. The party will have to go left to keep its base engaged.
The GOP is in fine shape because the base will turn out even for very flawed candidates.
Cuccinelli is a national figure.
The election is a repudiation of Obamacare.
This shows Virginia is still a conservative state.
Of course, state elections may be nothing more than a referendum on the individual candidates. And with candidates this objectionable to so many voters, generalization is hard. Republicans won’t have as suspect a character as McAuliffe to run against in every race; Democrats won’t have such an easy target as Cuccinelli in most contests. The only accurate conclusion may be that voters hated one candidate less than the other. That still won’t keep a lid on the hyperbolic analysis. It’s a slow electoral year.