Internal polling always showed a tight race between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) in the Virginia governor’s race, Democratic National Committee Communications Director Mo Elleithee argued in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.
“Ken Cuccinelli made this race in Virginia a referendum on Obamacare. Democrats made this a referendum on the tea party’s extremism and the government shutdown. We won,” Elleithee said. “And let’s be very clear because I know there’s been a lot of chatter about whether or not there’s been a tightening of the race as a result of the Cuccinelli focus of Obamacare — there was no tightening of the race. The internal polling of the campaign showed from the summer remarkably consistent that the race was anywhere from 2 to 4 points.”
Elleithee’s comments came a day after McAuliffe very narrowly eked out a victory over Cuccinelli in the race. Polling ahead of election night suggested McAuliffe would enjoy a much wider margin of victory.
“No one, and I think anyone that I talk to and I think most people on this call would agree, did we ever believe these double-digit margins,” Elleithee continued. “This was always going to be a close race and it ended up remarkably consistent with what the campaign’s internal polling showed. So there was no narrowing of the race.”
Elleithee stressed that polls did not tighten because, as Cuccinelli argued, in the last few days the campaing focused more on the rocky Obamacare rollout.
“But let’s focus on Obamcare. It was not the vote motivator that the Republicans want everyone to believe it was,” Elleithee said. “According to exit polls, 27 percent of Virginians said that healthcare was their top issue and the candidates were nearly split even on that. Twenty percent of folks said that the issue of a woman’s right to choose was their top issue. Terry McAuliffe won those voters by about 40 points. It is not the vote motivator or it’s not as toxic as they want people to believe and in fact if you look at it I think people’s overwhelming opposition to the repeal movement is going to continue to blow back and hurt the other side. Why? These guys took it to the most extreme lengths. They took it to shutdown and that people are upset with. And I think you’re going to see candidates across the country, on the Republican side, struggling with that next year.”