A close look at last Tuesday’s defining governor’s election in Virginia leaves both the ultra right-wing tea party and soon to be ex-Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli with a clear message — don’t piss off women in the Old Dominion.
Women in general — and particularly single women — told Cuccinelli and the tea party to go away and stay away. Women overall turned out for Democrat Terry McAulife by almost 10 percent over Cuccinelli and unmarried women gave the McAuliffe a 42 percent margin of support.
Central among issues of importance to women voters: Abortion, birth control and related concerns.
In typical, ironic and hypocritical fashion, Republican right-wingers who have long made such “social issues” key to what they feel are their constituency and support now say Democrats are concentrating too much on abortion.
Typical. When you win, you claim success on fringe issues. When you lose, who say they aren’t important.
McAuliffe focuses much of his campaign on what he called Cuccinelli’s “war on women” and exit polls say the message hit home.
“It was the most pronounced I have ever seen it,” Dawn Laguens, executive director of Planned Parenthood Association, said last week in a panel discussion on the role of women’s issues in the Virginia election.
Longtime GOP political consultant Charlie Black admits Cuccinelli was vulnerable on issues important to women because “not very many Repubican candidates share” the GOP attorney general’s extreme views.
“Ken earlier in his career had some things to say about abortion and some other issues that were pretty severe,” Black told Politico after the Virginia election.
“Some things” expressed by Cuccinelli include comments like: “Really, given that God does judge nations, it’s amazing that abortion has run as far and foully as it has.”
Cuccinelli, and the tea party that backed him with such fervor, claim most Americans oppose abortion, yet poll after poll says just the opposite.
A poll by Quinnipiac University earlier this year found 55 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal in pregnancies up to 20 weeks. CNN’s polling put the support at 52 percent. So did Gallup.
Conservatives claim the closeness of the Virginia races proves that social issues is issue that can swing both ways but it was not abortion and women-related issues that close the gap over the weekend before the election. Exit polls clearly show that deciding to include Obamacare, with its many problems, into the mix was a risky strategy for McAuliffe that almost backfired.
Even with Obamacare in the mix, Virginians sent a clear message to the tea party and their favorite sons most of all in Democrat Ralph Northam‘s convincing win over right-wing ideologue E.W. Jackson. Jackson spouted tea party mantra with biblical zeal and voters rejected him outright by more than 10 percent.
“It wasn’t even close,” said GOP strategist Mark Goodwin. “It never was.”