Opinion I Featured

Obama victory could cost Democrats Virginia governorship

Published: November 15, 2012, 2:50 am ET
Opinion Assistant

Virginia liberals, a group that includes many Richmond students, had two victories to celebrate after last week’s election. Not only did Barack Obama win a second term as president, but he also won Virginia, a state that was considered thoroughly Republican until four years ago.

However, Obama’s victory may become very bittersweet for the Virginian left, because this state has been subject to a unique political trend (or curse) for more than 30 years.

Since 1977, the party that won the presidency lost the following year’s gubernatorial election.

Virginia will be one of only two states to elect a governor next year, and the race is shaping up to be a fiery clash over abortion, marriage equality and environmentalism.

The likely Republican candidate is Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. He has made his conservative beliefs clear through the powers of his office. He sued a former U.Va. climate researcher because he believed that the man’s research, which focused on proving the issue of global warming, was a fraudulent use of state funding.

In a later incident, the attorney general tried to force Virginia public universities to strip protections for sexual orientation and gender identity from their non-discrimination policies. He also decided that Virginia’s seal showed one breast too many, and he began using buttons that had Virtus, the Roman god depicted on the seal, a little more covered.

Cuccinelli’s blunt speeches and activism won him the devotion of the Tea Party movement and the respect of many other Virginia conservatives.

He is relatively young and attractive, or so said my best friend from high school, who found a lot of irony in being gay and attracted to a homophobe. In comparison with Gov. Bob McDonnell’s two-faced strategy of vague, moderate speeches and hardline politics, Cuccinelli seems honest and straightforward. To Virginia conservatives, he is their general against a perceived wave of liberalism overtaking this once conservative state.

With this past election, Virginia Democrats have sent their only two successful candidates for governor from the past two decades to Washington, D.C. as senators. In contrast with its success nationwide, the Virginia Democratic Party is static and powerless. It controls neither house of the General Assembly and none of the three executive offices (governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general).

Democrats have a steep climb to beat the curse of the past three decades. There is still a lot of celebration to do over Barack Obama’s victory, but when it comes to the man or woman who will control Virginia’s future, the Republicans have history and personality on their side.

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  • Jake Morrison

    In every election between 1940 and 2008, when the Redskins won their last home game before the election, the incumbent party would win the Presidential election. Obviously correlation does not prove causation. The fact that the President’s party has gone on to lose the Virginia gubernatorial election doesn’t prove that the Presidential election is what has caused this trend.

    The real interesting data is the changing demographics in Virginia, which have made the state turn from reliably red to purply blue. I’d say things bode pretty well for Democrats in Virginia… depending on the candidates of course.

  • Sam56

    By Dick Diver’s tanned limbs, this is profound political punditry! From hither do you derive it!

  • Evelyn

    Cuccinelli’s future success, or failure, has little to do with Obama’s win. Certainly, if some facts had been revealed (and not obscured by the WH and their media friends), Virginia would have probably gone red. No, the next gubernatorial race will have everything to do with Virginians who are sick and tired of Obama and his sycophants stepping on our Constitution, regulating every segment of our lives, printing worthless dollars and, simultaneously, driving our debt to heights that Americans cannot fathom. Add to this, the untold lies and deceit — we in Virginia want an honest, upstanding, forthright, governor, and Cuccinelli fits the bill perfectly.