As the bitter and rancid Virginia governor’s race sputters to a welcome and overdue end on Tuesday, the endless wave of propaganda engulfing voters from the campaigns of both Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli has, thankfully, slowed.
Part of the reason is strategic. Candidates tend to go positive in the final days of even a bitter, negative campaign. McAuliffe is on the air over the weekend with ads touting his family, the Virginia birthplace of his children and a promotion of “the Virginia way.”
In Cuccinelli’s case,, the decision is economic. His campaign is broke and deeply in debt and organizations with fat checkbooks have pulled out, unwilling to waste more money on an effort they see as hopeless.
McAuliffe’s TV ads over the weekend outnumber Cuccinelli 25 to 1 and the candidate is campaigning this weekend with President Barack Obama on his side.
Cuccinelli is flying from airport to airport within the Commonwealth, hoping to rally the tea party faithful to come out and vote in an election where only 40-50 percent of registered voters are expected to turn out on Tuesday.
Rallying tea party support is a big gamble for Cuccinelli and one that many GOP insiders see as the latest mistake in a campaign that could serve as a political science class study on what not to do.
“Cuccinelli’s campaign is a textbook example of an effort gasping for air and in need of life support,” says longtime Washington-based GOP strategist Arne Logan.
The latest polls show McAuliffe with a lead that ranges from seven to 15 points.
Cuccinelli, of course, will carry Floyd County and other Southwestern Virginia regions where hard-core conservatives still dominate the electorate but any margin he gets will almost certainly be wiped out by McAuliffee in the more populous areas and Cuccinelli will also lose votes to Libertarian Robert Sarvis.
Recent polls in Virginia show more than half the voters consider the tea party as a political liability, not an asset, for a candidate.
Some Democrats hope a strong showing by McAuliffe helped Herring while the tea party faithful see a victory for Obenshain as their only hope for salvation in an election where their candidates will be largely rejected.
But all sides agree on one thing: They will be glad when the long nightmare of the 2013 Virginia governor’s race is over.