In Virginia, heavily favored Democrat Terry McAuliffe barely eked out a two-point win, while in New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie sailed to reelection with a 20-point victory. Meanwhile, in a special congressional election in Alabama, Chamber of Commerce-type Republican Bradley Byrne defeated Dean Young, a Tea Party favorite, 53-46.
In the Old Dominion, McAuliffe defeated Ken Cuccinelli with a mere plurality of votes after having trailed throughout the evening. Going into Election Day, McAuliffe had consistently and comfortably led in all polls, and vastly outraised and outspent his opponent. Yet Obamacare’s failed rollout made the election that close—even as Cuccinelli steadfastly refused to come to grips with modernity.
According to exit polls, 53 percent of Virginians opposed Obamacare, and that is what made Cuccinelli a contender. Right now, Obamacare is the Democrats’ albatross, and President Obama’s mangled legacy.
On the other side of the ledger, Cuccinelli lost among women, college graduates, and wealthier voters. His message of traditionalism, nullification, and antipathy toward the industrial Midwest cost him badly in post-government shutdown Northern Virginia. Sixty percent of Virginia’s voters were pro-choice, and single women gave McAuliffe better than a 40-point margin.
McAuliffe also won among voters with incomes over $200,000—who comprised more than a tenth of all voters—by 16 points. Yet just a year earlier, it was Mitt Romney who won high-end Virginia. Indeed, even Virginia’s suburbs have been Yankeefied.
Going forward, that is the fact the GOP must carefully digest. If Republicans can no longer reliably rely on Virginia’s wealthy, then they have even less of a prayer in Pennsylvania’s Main Line or in the tony environs of Ohio’s Hamilton County in presidential years.
To top it off, blacks cast one fifth of the vote in Virginia—the same percentage as they had cast in 2012—and they went for McAuliffe by better than nine-to-one. The Old Dominion is now a national bellwether, and the GOP is looking like anything but a national party.
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