On a conference call with reporters Friday afternoon, Republican Ken Cuccinelli said his campaign was closing aggressively and was “positioned to shock the political world” in Tuesday’s Virginia election. Cuccinelli, who trails Democrat Terry McAuliffe in polling, said his campaign was beating their turnout and grass roots goals.
Cuccinelli stressed repeatedly that President Obama’s decision to campaign on Sunday with McAuliffe was a “great opportunity” for the Republican’s campaign. “[The Democrats] are having a rally to celebrate ObamaCare,” Cuccinelli said. He noted that he was the “first person in the country” to fight ObamaCare, referencing the fact that he was the first to file a lawsuit challenging the health care law, and welcomed the introduction of the issue into the Governor’s race.
He dismissed the possibility that Obama’s appearance would energize Democrats to turn out for McAuliffe. He noted that McAuliffe has released very few specifics about his proposals, making it difficult to increase interest in the campaign. “Voters want to be for something,” Cuccinelli said.
McAuliffe has maintained a steady lead in recent polling. The Democrat has been helped by a significant fundraising advantage. In recent weeks, McAuliffe has enjoyed a 3 or 4-1 advantage on the airwaves. In the closing days of the campaign, union and Democrat interest groups have poured additional resources into McAuliffe’s campaign, but additional ad spending at this stage in the campaign delivers diminishing returns.
“We may be out raised,” Cuccinelli said. “But, we won’t be outworked.”
Tuesday’s election is expected to have a very low turnout, certainly much lower than the turnout in 2012. The electorate in odd-years tends to be older and more conservative than in presidential years, giving the Cuccinelli campaign hope of a strong finish.
McAuliffe certainly hopes that Obama’s campaign appearance creates enthusiasm among Democrat voters. It is just as likely, however, to galvanize the Republican and conservative base. If Cuccinelli prevails on Tuesday, it will be because conservatives returned to Republicans and opposition to ObamaCare. It’s a message that GOP leaders in DC should heed.