VA Governors race post one

The election to replace Bob McDonnell has taken on an interesting dynamic, where both candidates are attempting to paint themselves as moderate, but one has met substantially greater obstacles to that goal.  In this post, I will discuss how the rest of the tickets has affected the race, and each respective candidates tack towards the middle.

First of all, it is important to note how the parties selected their candidates; the Republican candidates were nominated by convention, while the Democratic nominees were chosen in a primary.  The difference between a primary and a convention is that at the latter, only the diehard supporters who choose to be delegates get to have a say in the nominating process, opposed to all registered voters.

Since a convention was the Republican method of choice, it produced a gaffe-prone extreme conservative winner of the Lieutenant Governor nomination, E.W. Jackson.  Jackson’s offensive statements on gays and abortion, in addition to allying himself closely to Cuccinelli (much to the attorney general’s dismay) have made it difficult for the ticket as a whole to tack to the middle.  The Attorney General candidate Mark Obenshain is most noted for his proposal to mandate women who have miscarriages report them to the police, within 48 hours.  All told, the ticket is conservative, and is acting like it.

In opposition, the two candidates running with McAuliffe, are moderate state senators from districts outside of Northern Virginia who have more centrist records. Mark Herring, the Attorney General nominee has represented Loudon County for years, surviving a great Republican year, 2011.  Ralph Northam is a pediatric neurologist whose signature legislative achievement is banning smoking in restaurants.

The direct contrast between the tickets is very clear; it is also making for a very close election.  Most public polling has seen enthusiasm increase for the Democratic candidate since the tickets were set, making most ballot tests within the margin of error.


  1. It must be really interesting to research a developing and often heated topic! From what I understand (and correct me if I’m wrong!) you’re researching how they’re approaching their campaigns for the 2013 election. I’m sure you have ample material to work with since it is a widely publicized race, but I think it might also be interesting to briefly look at overall changes in party polarization, since this race seems to be a microcosm of larger political changes. I think even looking at simple statistics like the number of congressmen who have voted across party lines in the past few decades would be an easy way to see how increased party polarization is pervasive and can have consequences, such as stalling legislature and making for a less efficient government. Just a suggestion! Your topic sounds really interesting though, and I can’t wait to read more about it!