In the final weekend of the campaign for Virginia Governor, Republican Ken Cuccinelli has announced rallies with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Congressman Ron Paul, among other Republicans. The Cuccinelli campaign has put its hopes for a come-from-behind victory in energizing base Republican and conservative voters. Walker and Paul both have unique appeal with voters Cuccinelli needs on Tuesday.
Walker will attend two rallies for Cuccinelli on Saturday, appearing in Spotslyvania and Woodbridge, two Northern Virginia suburbs were the Republican needs a strong vote. Ron Paul will attend an evening rally on Monday, the eve of the election in Richmond.
Libertarian candidate Richard Sarvis has unexpectedly polled strongly in the race, attracting around 10% of voters. According to polls, Sarvis is drawing more support away from Cuccinelli than Democrat McAuliffe. Ron Paul has a very strong following among Sarvis supporters and his appearance with Cuccinelli is meant to stem the tide of defections from the Republican.
For most of the campaign, Cuccinelli ran a very conventional race. He downplayed his conservative positions and focused on more narrow Virginia-specific issues. After an exceptionally negative campaign, both he and McAuliffe have high negative ratings with voters. With turnout expected to be low, Cuccinelli is returning to conservative themes to energize grass roots turnout.
On a conference call with reporters on Friday, Cuccinelli, at least twice, mentioned he was the “pro-liberty” candidate. He reiterated his early opposition to ObamaCare. He stressed that Obama’s campaigning this weekend for McAuliffe made the election a “referendum” on ObamaCare. Cuccinelli is, at last, trying to nationalize the election.
McAuliffe’s decision to campaign with President Obama is risky. It is also a sign that the Democrat is worried about his supporters’ enthusiasm. While he has slightly more support among Democrats than Cuccinelli has among Republicans, his high personal negatives could dampen turnout of voters he needs.
Cuccinelli does not hold a lead in any public poll. McAuliffe has held a small, but steady, lead in the polls for several weeks. A Cuccinelli victory on Tuesday would be a big upset, but one that is possible given the expected low turnout.
Scott Walker and Ron Paul excite key segments of the voters Cuccinelli needs. We’ll know Tuesday if it is enough.