Ask Aaron: Election Day 2013

Nov 05, 2013

Aaron Blake chats with readers about Election 2013 in his weekly Post Politics chat series.

Sorry for the all CAPS in the headline, but we get excited on Election Day.

After all, when you write about politics and campaigns (what seems like) 365 days a year, it's rare that you get to see voters actually heading to the polls to decide who controls their states/country.

Granted, most states aren't holding major elections today, but that doesn't mean there aren't some interesting things on the ballot.

To wit:

1. Will Terry McAuliffe hold on in Virginia?

2. How historic will Chris Christie's win be in New Jersey?

3. How historic will Bill de Blasio's win be in New York City?

4. Will the tea party or the Chamber of Commerce win a runoff for a congressional seat in Alabama?

5. What was Rob Ford thinking when he smoked crack?

(OK that last one isn't technically on the ballot, but holy mackeral...)

What else is one your mind? 

If as expected Cuccinelli loses, is Bolling the odds on favorite to get the nomination in 2017?

I don't think so. He has so alienated the conservative base with his flirtation with an independent bid that he likely can never win the nomination -- especially if they nominate via state party convention.

Unless, of course, the party has a kumbaya moment and decides to start nominating moderates. I don't see that happening, though.

Is Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto channeling Rodney Dangerfield?

"I tried marijuana once. I didn't know what I was doing -- I was high on cocaine at the time." (Rodney Dangerfield)

"Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine ... um, probably in one of my drunken stupors." (Rob Ford)

Rob Ford is challenging Rodney Dangerfield, Chris Farley and Marion Barry all at once.

Any thoughts on who will win? What cushion does T-Mac need to drag Herring across the line?

I think this could be closer than some of the late polls. My feeling as that 3rd party candidates generally lose support at the end because people want to vote for someone with a chance.

In this case, I think more Sarvis supporters go to Cuccinelli than to McAuliffe.

Will it be enough for Herring to top Obenshain? I think McAuliffe needs to be in the upper-single digits with his margin. But I am NO expert on the AG race.

If it Christie vs Clinton who wins overall and more importantly who wins New England area and who wins the south ?

Clinton still wins the NE (outside maybe NH and NJ), and Christie still wins the South (even Arkansas), but not by nearly as much as in the past.

Let's remember that Mitt Romney was a governor from the Northeast, and it didn't seem to matter.

If he had it to do over, would he not have been so visible in the Tea Party movement?

I think the best call for the GOP today -- if you want to win in the general election -- is to keep close to the tea party movement without becoming "of" it.

People like Scott Walker are good at this.

For Cuccinelli, I don't think he had much of a choice. It was baked-in.

Does 2013 show that being pro-life is a losing position in Virginia?

I think we're getting to that point. In states like Virginia with large, fiscally moderate/conservative but socially liberal areas like Northern Virginia, this is a huge driver of votes for women.

Other states where this is the case that come to mind: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio.

What do you think?

A Herring win would be the icing on the cake, for sure, and our polling suggests it's quite possible: http://wapo.st/177SBWb

Would be very surprised if Cuccinelli or Jackson won.

His whole plagiarism debacle underscores the larger problem for Republicans--the conservative bubble. Paul can attack Maddow and others and get applause from like-minded people. That doesn't do anything for swing voters.

It's true that conservatives have to spend so much time making sure they are cool with their own base that they sometimes lose the broader focus.

In the case of Paul, the best thing to do would have been to take his medicine on day one, suggest there were other examples of plagiarism out there, and let it be done.

Whether Rachel Maddow or anybody else broke this story, the evidence is clear, and it was pretty indefensible.

Who plays him since we don't have Chris Farley anymore?

If the R's lose every statewide race tonight, who are some possibilities to run for Governor in 2017? Any of the congressman?

Maybe someone like Rep. Scott Rigell or Rob Wittman?

As I said, I don't think Bolling has much of a chance, and I don't think Jackson ever had much of a future.

The big loss would be Obenshain, who as AG would be fast-tracked to be the 2017 GOV nominee.

If Rob Ford were Mayor of NYC, cable news would not cover another story until 2014.

He also would have been out of office like 4 months ago.

I saw your tweet about Santa impersonators in Minnesota. Is this prohibition to protect the powerful male Santa lobby or just what you guys waste time on when you don't have crime and pollution?

The Minnesota League of Male Santas is notoriously powerful in St. Paul.

In fact, they practically got Jesse Ventura elected on their own.

Right now, it seems that the Republicans' best issue is Obamacare, while the Democrats' best issue is the shutdown/Tea Party. Still, the next Congressional election is a year away. Which do you think is more likely to be a top of mind issue by November 2014?

The shutdown may be a distant memory by then, but who's to say the GOP's tea party wing won't do something similar before then to hurt their brand again? It's happened several times before and it seems bound to happen again.

That said, this Obamacare thing appears to be the gift that keeps on giving for Republicans, and this is a huge legislative initiative. If it's still failing come Election Day 2014, it's hard to see how the GOP doesn't have the edge in the midterm elections.

Why has Christie done better with minorities and women than national Republicans have? Because he hasn't had to address issues Romney did (i.e., immigration) and congressional Republicans do. He can ignore them now by saying, "I'm running for governor," but he doesn't have that luxury in 2016. Issues matter to voters.

All very good points. As a governor, Christie can stay far away from the immigration and shutdown debates and carve out some middle-ground on guns. But when he's on the debate stage with 9 other Republicans who toe the line on those issues, is he going to be the one guy who doesn't?

I've said before that if one Republican could pull that off, it would be Christie. But that doesn't mean I'm sure he could do it or will attempt it.

We've been seeing some 2012 levels of turnout. If that continues throughout today, who does that help - Cuccinelli (the one with the deepest base) or McAuliffe (the one with the broadest appeal)?

If turnout were as high as 2012 -- and it would be unbelievable if it were somehow -- that's good for McAuliffe. Cuccinelli has a demonstrated problem with the political middle and he needs a low-turnout, base election if he is to win.

Aaron, will we ever start hearing about the people who are now able to afford health insurance for the first time? I saw one item in the NYT, but that's it. Here in Illinois, of course, it's different, but I'm talking about national media. Or is that too much of a dog-bites-man story?

There will be stories on stuff like that. The problem right now is we don't have quantitative data on enrollments. That will come next week.

Without that hard data, the stories would be so anecdotal that I'm not sure they would mean much of anything.

And even if people are, by and large, saving money, that still doesn't trump the fact that people are having their insurance canceled (despite the administration's promises) and unable to sign up for new insurance due to HealthCare.gov's problems.

Will there be exit polling in NJ and VA?

Yes, the Post will have the Virginia exit polls, and there will also be exit polls in New Jersey and New York that we'll be talking about.

If I had to bet, Christie will be hosting a radio show and doing cable commentating in 5 years. He won't want to run for president in this environment.

"This environment?" It's November 2013 -- at least 26 months before the first ballots are cast in the 2016 presidential primaries.

That is an eternity in politics.

What comes after the governorship? I don't see Kaine or Warner retiring any time soon. Heading the DNC?

McAuliffe already did that, so I'm not sure why he would go back.

Maybe a Cabinet secretary if he does well? He's certainly not seen as presidential/VP material.

Bobby Moynihan (Drunk Uncle) from SNL could play Rob Ford.

Not bad.

Do you see any chance he can make a political comeback if he is not indicted?

Stranger things have happened. Yes, I can see that happening under the right set of circumstances.

What if anything have you been hearing? Do you agree with the conventional wisdom that low turnout favors Cuccinelli? While I agree that McAuliffe's voters aren't highly motivated to vote for McAuliffe, I think they are highly motivated to vote against Cuccinelli. (So I'm not sure that a low turnout election is as bad for the Macker as everyone assumes.)

A fair point. Our own polling showed 64% of McAuliffe voters said their vote was more against KC than for TM. By contrast, 50% of KC supporters said their vote was more about their own guy than McAuliffe.

Those are striking numbers.

Sounds like Virginia is trying to be Louisiana lite.

It would be Louisiana if he got indicted and then put it on his bumper sticker the next time he ran. "Vote for the Crook. It's important."

How accurate has polling been in the past? I know 1989 had Wilder winning big and he won by 6,000 votes. I think in 2005 Kaine and Kilgore were neck and neck and Kaine won handily. What is the chance the poll is wrong now?

Midterms are hard to poll, and things change at the end of the campaign that the polls don't necessarily account for.

That said, there are many more examples of the polls being right than there are off Hillary Clinton beating Obama in New Hampshire.

Toomey has to be worried about reelection if he worked on guns and helped ENDA yesterday.

If he's not worried about his reelection, then he should be. He's a former Club for Growth head running in Pennsylvania.

He absolutely needs to moderate on stuff like that.

So, what is it about Chris Christie that makes him so wildly popular even among independent voters and Democrats (since nobody with his numbers can get there only with his own party)?

With him, it's so much about his personal style and command of his message. I think you sell him short when you say it's because he's moderate or takes the right issue positions.

To some degree, this is something you can't quantify. He just has "it" -- right now, at least.

Don't most Tea Party candidates live in safe districts that are getting 70% of the vote? What do they care about national politics? And being criticized by the Republican establishment only proves to them that they are doing the right thing. I just don't see these guys going away in Congress. Of course they will have trouble winning purple state state-wide governor or Senate races like VA, but in the end, their power lies in Congress through Boehner.

This is a great point. Though I would note that most of these guys don't have 70-plus percent red districts. Most of them come from districts in the 58-70 percent red range.

It's actually very rare than any GOP district votes more than 70 percent Republican. In fact, I just checked, and there wer only 19 districts that went 70-plus for Romney in 2012..

More than his personality, it's Sandy. Before the storm, he was popular enough, and probably would have been re-elected, but not like this.

There's that too.

But I'm not sure Sandy explains his strong national appeal, which is virtually unmatched as well.

On twitter there is a picture going around of someone in Buffalo writing in Kiko Alonzo for every office today. I get the sense people don't take local elections as seriously.

If there's a guy you want to write-in, it might be Kiko Alonzo. The guy is amazing.

I know someone who once voted for Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights in any race they were unfamiliar with.

Thanks everyone for your great questions today.

Be sure to stay tuned to Post Politics and our Election Day live blog, where we'll keep you posted all afternoon and all night.

Until next week...

In This Chat
Aaron Blake
Aaron Blake covers national politics at the Washington Post, where he writes regularly for the Fix, the Post's top political blog. A Minnesota native and graduate of the University of Minnesota, Aaron has also written about politics for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and The Hill newspaper. Aaron and his wife, Danielle, and dog, Mauer, live in Northern Virginia.
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