Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says Democrats there turned out in droves to register their animosity towards President Trump and he says Republicans didn’t see the same passion from their voters because of failure after failure from the GOP in Washington.
On Tuesday, Democrat Ralph Northam coasted to an easy nine-point win over Republican Ed Gillespie. Democrats also won the races for lieutenant governor and attorney general and are on the brink of a stunning capture of the majority in the House of Delegates, where Republicans had enjoyed a 66-34 margin.
Pundits around the nation are offering endless analyses for the results, but Cuccinelli – the man who led the GOP ticket as the party’s nominee for governor four years ago – says the dominant performance from Democrats really boils down to one party’s base being fired up and the other one discouraged.
“On the Democrat side, it is correct to say that Trump motivated their most left-wing voters,” said Cuccinelli, who says exit polls show voters who backed Bernie Sanders in 2016 were far more energized than those who sided with Hillary Clinton.
“If you look at Hillary Clinton’s top 50 precincts in 2016, the voter turnout there only went up about one percent from the last election. If you look at Bernie Sanders’ top 50 precincts, the voter turnout exploded almost 20 percent,” said Cuccinelli.
He says that kind of enthusiasm was only evident on one side of the aisle on Tuesday.
“You’re never going to keep the left from being upset about Donald Trump and the Republicans. They’re going to come, right? So, the way to deal with it is to turn yours out. And unless you can deliver victories for them when you have both houses (of Congress) and the presidency, they will wonder what’s the point. That’s what happened yesterday,” said Cuccinelli.
Despite no members of Congress being on the ballot in Virginia on Tuesday, Cuccinelli firmly believes unfulfilled promises in Washington depressed the GOP turnout.
“Republicans are demoralized and dispirited at the complete failure of Republicans to keep their promises in Washington. As far as ordinary Republican voters can remember, they haven’t delivered on anything,” said Cuccinelli.
He says the most glaring example is the inability to repeal Obamacare, but he’s unimpressed with the rest of the track record as well.
“You’re hearing what amounts to a muddling debate over the tax bill. Yes, Neil Gorsuch is on the Supreme Court, and I hate to say this, but that was a long time ago,” said Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli does not believe Tuesday’s results guarantee another political tsunami in the 2018 midterm elections, but he says it will happen if Republicans don’t put some legislative wins on the board.
“Are we going to be in a position, like we were in Virginia, of unilateral disarmament. And by that I mean where we have nothing to motivate our side
“They have something to motivate their side and it isn’t going away. Unfortunately for America, what this is going to lead Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to do is simply be more obstructionist because lack of accomplishment is the Republicans’ Achilles heel,” said Cuccinelli.
He says the solution for that is simple.
“Pass Obamacare repeal, not a watered-down version but the real deal. Pass a real tax cut bill, not some mealy-mouthed thing there’s no reason to get excited about. They can fix this and one result of this will be to put a lot more pressure on congressional Republicans to perform,” said Cuccinelli.
Many of the House of Delegates seats won by Democratic challengers came in Northern Virginia, just outside of Washington. And Democrats did not win those races with moderates but with very liberal candidates.
“In Northern Virginia, there was a transgender, (and also) a self-declared socialist. These are wild-eyed radical lefties. Antifa is very happy with the outcome with some of these people,” said Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli doesn’t think Virginia voters embraced liberal politics in voting our their delegates. He says the liberal candidates just rode the wave.
“People in those districts weren’t electing a socialist because somehow the city of Manassas in Prince William County suddenly turned socialist. Those were simply the down ballot candidates at a time that the anger wave on the left carried them over the finish line,” said Cuccinelli.
He says Republican incumbents were done in by an unenthusiastic base that once again points to a lack of accomplishments in Washington this year.
“Good candidates down ballot were not in a position to resist the environmental wave that they were in: the negative one from the Democrats and then the lack of a wave of momentum coming from Republican accomplishment.
“Imagine how this would be different if five weeks ago Obamacare had been repealed instead of having some watered-down, mealy-mouthed go down anyway. Would Ed Gillespie have made up a nine and a half point difference? No, but down ballot would your delegate have lost like that? Probably not. Would mine? Probably not,” said Cuccinelli.
However, Cuccinelli says Republicans do face a bigger and bigger problem that has nothing to do with this year’s political dynamics – the influx of big-government liberals into Northern Virginia.
“The astonishing growth of the federal government over the past two decades has led to a massive importation of pro-government voters into Northern Virginia. Somebody’s got to run that growing leviathan, right?
“They haven’t moved to Maryland for the past 35 years. They moved to Virginia because the taxes are lower and quality of life is higher. But they vote like where they come from: New York, California, Illinois, Massachusetts,” said Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli blames both parties for the explosive growth in the federal government and says that tells the story of Democrats winning elections in Virginia far more than demographic shifts.
“What it really is is the growth of the swamp. Northern Virginia is home of the swamp. It’s where government lives is in Virginia. That has been killing us for a long time,” said Cuccinelli.