Wasn’t it obvious from the outset that the shutdown ginned up by Republican saboteurs would hurt the party? (Of course.) Didn’t anyone with an ounce of political sense recognize from day one that the shutdown would poison Republican electoral prospects in key swing states? (Gee, really? Is the pope progressive?)
And sure enough, here we go: In the top contest of autumn 2013, the gubernatorial race in swing-state Virginia, Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli is getting dragged asunder by the shutdown.
It’s right there in the poll numbers. “The Cooch” was already in trouble – his extremism on social issues is out of sync with the mainstream – but the crisis in Washington, manufactured by his right-wing brethren across the Potomac River – has basically put the kibosh on his candidacy. Apparently it’s not fruitful for a Republican to seek high office in a state where tens of thousands of civilian and military government workers are stuck twiddling their thumbs at home. A state where the shutdown is not just an abstraction.
(By the way, Virginia is hardly unique. In Montana, timber companies are imperiled. in North Carolina, private hotels situated on government land have been forced to close. In Arizona, financial aid to the poor has been halted. In Connecticut, Florida, and Alabama, United Technologies Corp, the farflung defense contractor, is projecting furloughs of 5000 workers. And so on.)
Cuccinelli hasn’t dared publicly rebuke the shutdown cadre, lest he alienate the Virginia’s conservative base – but that base isn’t big enough to help him statewide. So he’s trapped. By staying mum about the shutdown, he has further alienated the mainstream voters who were already cool to his social conservatism. Those swing voters were not pleased on Saturday when Cuccinelli was lauded on the Virginia stump by the candidate’s special guest, Ted Cruz. And how telling it was – hilarious, actually – that The Cooch ensured that he was not photographed alongside the shutdown’s extremist cheerleader.
So, the new poll numbers – as tabulated in bipartisan fashion, by a Democratic firm working with a Republican firm: When Virginians were asked whether they supported shutting down the government over the funding of Obamacare, 62 percent said no, and 31 percent said yes. Within the landslide “no shutdown” camp, 64 percent support Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, and 16 percent back Cuccinelli. Within the minority “yes” camp, the sentiment is virtually reversed – Cuccinelli is favored by 73-10 percent – but you can’t win in a swing state, not in the midst of a shutdown that has real ramifications, if you’re encased in right-wing bubble wrap.
Pre-shutdown, Cuccinelli was generally trailing McAuliffe by five or six points. Now he’s trailing by nine. And if there was no third-party candidate, Cuccinelli would be trailing by 10. Team Cuccinelli naturally says, “We reject the findings within this poll,” but that’s standard bubble-wrap pap, reminiscent of Team Romney in 2012. The Republican pollster who co-conducted the survey, Brock McCleary, couldn’t have been blunter: “Already playing from behind, Cuccinelli is getting no help from the shutdown.”
By the way, Cuccinelli, currently the state attorney general, took a second hit yesterday when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal in the case of Moose v. MacDonald. He was attempting to save a defunct Virginia statute that outlawed oral and anal sex between consenting married straight adults. You read that right, folks. It was called the “Crimes Against Nature” law, and the federal courts have thrown it out, calling it an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. Cuccinelli wanted to reinstate that invasion – government in the bedroom, and all that – but even the Supreme Court’s conservative majority essentially told him yesterday to take a hike.
Buried by the shutdown, Cuccinelli may soon enter the terminal stage of desperation. We’ll know he’s there if he suddenly comes out for oral sex.
But surely the shutdown must be earning rave reviews in crimson-red Republican enclaves like Utah. Oh wait…
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