McAuliffe Risks Campaign with Joint Obama Appearance
On Sunday, Democrat Terry McAuliffe will campaign in the vote-rich Northern Virginia suburbs with President Obama. The Obama appearance, coming just two days before voters go to the polls, is obviously intended to increase Dem enthusiasm for McAuliffe and boost turnout. It is risky, though, as it could also galvanize Republican and Independent voters who had been cool on Republican Ken Cuccinelli.
The appearance, however, comes in the midst of the disastrous roll-out of ObamaCare. In addition to the well-documented failures of the health exchange website, millions of Americans are receiving notices that their existing insurance plans are being cancelled and they will now be forced into the flawed exchanges. Obama's claim that "if you like your plan, you can keep it," has turned out not to be true.
As a result of these failures, Obama is posting some of worst approval ratings of his Presidency. By campaigning for McAuliffe, Obama helps to "nationalize" the race, giving some voters a reason to turn out beyond the messages of the individual campaigns.
The Cuccinelli campaign is trying to frame the final days of the election as a "referendum" on ObamaCare. McAuliffe made ObamaCare a central tenet of his campaign, promising to use the law to expand Medicaid in Virginia. The Republican legislature and Governor had blocked the entitlement's expansion in the Commonwealth.
Although McAuliffe holds a steady lead in the polls, support for both candidates is mired in the mid to low 40%. A Libertarian candidate, Richard Sarvis, is attracting around 10%. The Cuccinelli campaign has had difficulty exciting the GOP and conservative base. If he can do that, he could still prevail in the likely low-turnout election.
Where his campaign failed, McAuliffe and Obama may succeed.