A Blueprint That Can’t Be Followed

The political blog “The Fix” recently named Republican Bob McDonnell’s campaign for Governor in Virginia as its “Campaign of the Year.” As you’ll see in a moment, the award says a lot about the problems ahead for Scott McInnis:

…from the start of the race, McDonnell had the message exactly right: jobs, jobs and more jobs. Everywhere he went, McDonnell talked about not only his commitment to create more jobs in the state but his plan on how to make it happen. His slogan — “Bob’s for jobs” — was a little cheesy but it undoubtedly stuck in the minds of voters whose number one priority was the health of the economy and the need to bring more jobs to the Commonwealth…

McDonnell, learning from the mistakes of past GOP nominees Mark Earley (2001) and Jerry Kilgore (2005), almost never talked about his social conservative beliefs — understanding, rightly, that it would alienate a critical segment of votes in northern Virginia and that even among his base of support there was as much interest in solving the economic crisis. [Pols emphasis]

…In winning so overwhelmingly — 59 percent to 41 percent — McDonnell helped revive the Republican party nationally but also provided aspiring GOP candidates with a campaign plan for how to win (and win big) in a swing state.

Virginia has some political similarities to Colorado in that both have relatively moderate electorates that had recently trended toward Democrats in races for U.S. Senate and Governor. McDonnell understood from the beginning that he needed to stick to an economy/jobs theme and avoid divisive social issues, particularly since he had a weird history of strange proclamations in his past.

Here in Colorado, McInnis may understand that he should avoid social issues, but he also might not have a choice given that the State GOP has clearly decided that Tea Party activists are going to be vitally important in 2010. In order to placate the Teabaggers, McInnis must pander to their interests, including taking public positions on things aside from divisive social issues. As we’ve pointed out before, opposing things like FASTER and the destructive “Dr. Evil ballot initiatives” may make the Tea Party people happy, but it doesn’t endear him to traditional GOP supporters like private construction contractors who depend on government projects to stay afloat.

McDonnell may have provided a great blueprint for McInnis to follow in his own gubernatorial campaign, but that doesn’t mean he can follow the instructions. It could be a mighty frustrating 11 months for McInnis of doing exactly what he knows he shouldn’t do.

14 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. rtwingtroll says:

    McDonnell’s opponent campaigned ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY opposing/exposing McDonnell’s “social conservativism,” especially on abortion and the role of women.  

    Clearly, these issues did not hurt McDonnell at all.

    For Republicans, being clearly and unapologetically pro-life is virtually ALWAYS A PLUS.

    But keep trolling your views, you pro-aborts, you.

    Cheers and Ciao

    • parsingreality says:

      Did you actually read the story?  Or just teabagged it?  If you think the conservative social positions are election winners, I strongly encourage you to keep it up.  It’s been working so well…….

      BTW, no one is “pro-abort.”  I know that I believe every abortion is a tragedy.  I also know it’s not government’s business to interfere in a woman’s decision.  

    • Colorado Pols says:

      McDonnell won because even though Deeds went after him on social issues, he stayed disciplined on the jobs and economy message.

      The difference in Colorado is that we don’t think McInnis will be able to stay focused on that message. Not that he won’t want to, but that he won’t be able to because of pressure to throw red meat social issues to the Tea Party and the far-right. You are aware, oh wise rtwingtroll, that McInnis was generally pro-choice in Congress?

      In Colorado, it isn’t a “plus” to be either pro-choice or pro-life. Poll after poll shows that voters in Colorado are fairly evenly split on the issue, with a small percentage favoring the pro-choice side. It might be “always a plus” for you personally, but it isn’t for the rest of the electorate. And while we’re at it, remind us how well that “life begins at conception” ballot measure did in 2008?

      • rtwingtroll says:

        EVERY VOTER (paying attention to TV, anyway) KNEW McDonnell was a pro-life, Christian whackjob (according to the Deeds’ campaign, anyway).  It was pretty much Deeds’ ONLY message, and McDonnell blew him out of the water.

        Could not be clearer to those who are honest observers and not pro-abort trolls, that the issues were a net PLUS to McDonnell … and they are in Colorado, too.

        Now McGinnis has significant problems on these issues (he’s squishy-squishy), and many others too, but that’s an entirely different question.


        • Republican 36 says:

          First, most polls in this state show that 60% of the registered voters are pro-choice. Initiatives to make state law pro life have been overwhelmingly defeated by the Colorado electorate.

          Second, McDonnell did something most Republican candidates absolutely fail to do. He promised to govern. He had specific policy proposals and he said he would fund education, transportation etc. Many Republican candidates in Colorado simply refuse to govern. For example, the elevated portion of I-70 east of I-25 needs to be replaced and rebuilt. This is an objective engineering fact. Republican response to this is cut taxes.  See Mr. McInnis’ statement that he will repeal the FASTER bill.

          McDonnell didn’t win because he is pro-life. He won because he addressed the issues voters care about in a way that made sense to them. The problem many Republicans have is they believe the voters want candidates that are right wing social conservatives when in fact they don’t. To Governor-elect McDonnell’s credit he figured out that if he campaigned on the issues voters care about, they won’t care where he is on the social issues. It also means that if, after he is inaugurated, he suddenly tried to have his socially conservative positions enacted into law his popularity will nose dive because Virginians did not elect him to do that.

  2. Middle of the Road says:

    about Creigh Deeds in late September or early October. It focused on why his campaign was tanking and they specifically mentioned the same thing–that McDonnell had managed to focus almost exclusively on jobs and the frustration in Virginia over the recession while Deeds tried to hammer home McDonnell’s extreme right wing views on social issues. It didn’t work. Deeds couldn’t get traction with it and McDonnell stayed on message–and he won.

  3. redstateblues says:

    With all the wingers not being able to spell their candidates name?

    For the last time, it is Scott McInnis.

    McGinnis sounds like McDonald’s newest attempt at Irish beer brewing.

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