Chris Graham: Virginia GOP doing its best to re-elect Obama
Think back all the way to the spring of 2010. The world was such a different place. Democrats were still riding high, relatively, anyway. Sure, the Tea Party protests of the summer and fall of 2009 were a jolt, but Dems still had enough political capital at their disposal to pass historic health-care reform.
Ah, the historic health-care reform. What seemed the zenith was actually the nadir of the brief blue turn of the American electorate, which turned on Democrats in the 2010 midterms and gave the House back to the GOP and set the country on its current pace of governmental sluggishness.
Now think ahead to the spring of 2013. I’m betting we look back a year to where we are now and say that what seemed to be the zenith for Virginia Republicans – passing regressive social-issues legislation aimed at putting women in their place, pushing for budget cuts that would cripple public education and other core government services – was actually the state GOP’s nadir.
Polls show that Virginians are not happy with the direction that Gov. Bob McDonnell and the Republican House are trying to take the Commonwealth in, and that if the November elections were held today, they would be in the mood to punish the GOP presidential and Senate candidates for their time and trouble. Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney fares the best against President Barack Obama in the Virginia battleground, and he still trails Obama by eight percentage points (50 percent to 42 percent). Meanwhile, Democrat Tim Kaine has a 47 percent-to-44 percent lead over Republican George Allen in Virginia’s tightly contested U.S. Senate race.
Like their frenemies on the other side of the aisle two years ago, Virginia Republicans got caught flying too close to the sun in 2012. McDonnell’s approval rating among Virginians is down significantly from earlier in the year, and approval ratings for the General Assembly are getting closer and closer to what we see with Congress, which itself is only slightly more popular than Joseph Stalin and Ted Bundy.
Obama’s big lead over Republicans in Virginia could be significant given the role that the Commonwealth played in his 2008 election win. And if Kaine can maintain his tenuous lead over Allen into November, that’s a key step for Senate Democrats as they fight to keep control of the senior chamber in Congress.
If current trends hold into the fall, in other words, you can thank Bob McDonnell and his odd fixation with transvaginal ultrasounds for having turned the tide.