The Washington Post‘s final poll in the Virginia Governor’s race predicted Democrat Terry McAuliffe romping to a 12-point landslide victory over Republican Ken Cuccinelli. The Post also found a gender-chasm, with McAuliffe enjoying a 24-point advantage among women over Cuccinelli. Obviously, the election did not turn out that way. The Post‘s pollsters published an article to explain the wide discrepancy between their poll and reality. In short, it was the Republicans’ fault.
“The toxic environment for Republicans in the wake of the partial government shutdown opens the possibility that poll respondents were reluctant to voice support for Cuccinelli in surveys for fear of being seen as supporting a party under intense public criticism,” write pollsters Peyton Craighill and Scott Clement.
“The political climate in the Commonwealth, fostered by the shutdown, may have soured voters on the Republican brand in pre-election polls, but memories may have been short,” they continue.
So, the Republican brand is so toxic that many Americans won’t admit that they support the party. The poll’s models weren’t wrong, mind you. Its that Republicans are so loathed by the public that people will lie to pollsters about their actual voting intentions.
Even this flimsy theory falls apart, however, because the voters apparently don’t overwhelmingly blame Republicans for the shutdown. According to network exit polls, voters blame the GOP (48%) and Obama (45%) about equally for the shutdown. This “toxic environment” seems only to exist in the minds of the Post‘s pollsters.
A week before the election, Breitbart News published exclusively a poll from Wenzel Strategies showing the race well within the margin of error. Days before the election, I wrote that McAuliffe was running a huge risk campaign with President Obama. The move, I argued, nationalized the race, put ObamaCare at the center, and would make the race very close, with a chance for a Cuccinelli victory. I was roundly mocked on Twitter for this.
While I may have been right that the race would be close, I was wrong about the reasons. I thought ObamaCare would result in voters breaking for Cuccinelli at the end. Apparently, voters have “short memories” and simply forgot how “toxic” those Republicans really are.