No, the Libertarian Candidate Did Not Cost Cuccinelli Virginia

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Last night was not a good night for the Republican base. Sure, Chris Christie won big, but the base hates Christie. He signed a gun control bill into law (yeah, it was extremely limited, but any regulation at all is considered sacrilegious treason to the 'baggers). He's open to the idea that global warming is real and that humans are driving it. And, the very worst sin, he basically betrayed Mitt Romney right before the election -- getting plenty of photo ops with Barack Obama after Hurricane Sandy. He even praised the President in a way that would be very easy to misunderstand as an endorsement. And he dissed Romney along the way, saying he "didn't give a damn" about getting a photo op with him. Tea Partiers will not celebrate Christie's win, because they don't consider him to be an actual conservative.

Another high-profile race was down in Virginia, where the media narrative has Democrat  Terry McAuliffe "barely" defeating Republican Ken Cuccinelli. It was closer than the polls had predicted, but with a nearly 3 point difference between the two candidates, the race is not remotely close enough for a recount under Virginia law. McAuliffe's win is solid and decisive. He put this thing to bed.

Immediately following Cuccinelli's loss, 'baggers took to Twitter to pile on Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis for stealing votes from Cuccinelli and costing him the race. But this particular bit of sore loserism is BS and is based on teabaggers' conception of Libertarianism. They think Libertarians are the Ron and Rand Paul types, who worry only about white, straight, evangelical male liberty and not so much about female, minority, and LGBT liberties. When actual, honest-to-goodness Libertarians got a look at Ken Cuccinelli -- who wants to make abortion illegal, ban certain sexual activities, and crack down on the Homosexual Menace -- they found they weren't exactly fans. Actual Libertarians vote against authoritarianism -- in fact, being against authoritarianism is what they're all about. According to CNN, "[I]f Sarvis had not been in the race, exit polls indicate McAuliffe would have beaten Cuccinelli by 7 points (50%-43%)." Those Libertarians, being the real deal and not just Republicans playing dress up, wouldn't have voted Cuccinelli in a million years.

The third party candidate didn't fracture the conservative vote as much as he divided the liberal vote. Instead of blaming Sarvis for their loss, wingnuts should be applauding him for coming within shouting distance of handing Cuccinelli an upset victory.
But of course, that little factoid doesn't explain why Cuccinelli lost, so it's of little use to the 'baggers. I expect to see some BS stories of voter fraud in the coming weeks and a continuation of the factually-challenged argument that Sarvis is to blame. But if you want someone to blame for Cuccinelli's loss and you want to be right, blame women.

Raw Story: During MSNBC’s election coverage on Tuesday night, Rachel Maddow of “The Rachel Maddow Show” talked about the deciding factor that handed the governorship of Virginia to the Democratic Party: women voters.

After the state elected one of its most far-right governors ever in the previous election, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), the Republican administration did everything within its power to restrict women’s access to abortion services and even contraception. In the gubernatorial election, Maddow said, women spoke back in the voting booth.

“You know, when you read the Beltway press about this race all along there’s been this kind of gauzy wonder,” Maddow said, “about how it is that Terry McAuliffe is doing so disproportionately well among women.”

The fact is that under current Governor Bob McDonnell, women's rights have been under direct and blatant assault. It was McDonnell, after all, who earned the nickname "Gov. Ultrasound," by virtue of his wanting to jam a wand into every woman seeking an abortion. And Cuccinelli was right there with him, every step of the way -- and not just as extreme as McDonnell, but more so. As a result, McAuliffe won women by nine points over all -- and unmarried women by an astonishing 42 points.

This is a real trend; Barack Obama won unmarried women by 36 points. There is a demographic crisis for the GOP as great or greater than that of Latino voters. Women -- unmarried women especially -- are not especially fond of being the subject of extra government. And they're voting against Republicans for the same reason that those Virginia Libertarians voted for Sarvis.

The Republicans are going to have to get serious about reforming their party -- not just pretending to change things with a "rebranding effort." They're going to have to get serious about liberty when they grandstand on the word; recognizing that liberty only for some isn't liberty at all, but a form a tyranny by a favored class, religion, gender, or other identity. They need to recognize that the era of wedge politics is over, that all the wedges work against them now, and that they're actually going to have to mean the things they say when they talk about freedom, rights, equality, and opportunity.

Frankly, I don't see that happening any time soon. And until they do, the Christie elections will be rare (he's still riding a wave of post-Sandy high approvals -- i.e., it's luck) and the Cuccinelli elections will be the norm.

If the 'baggers want to blame someone, they can go ahead and blame themselves. Which, of course, they won't -- meaning the problem will just perpetuate itself over and over for the foreseeable future.


[photo by domesticat]

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