Republicans in Virginia declared Tuesday’s gubernatorial election a referendum on Obamacare and when all was said and done, they lost.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who had been considered a weak opponent for Virginia’s Tea Party Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, defeated Cuccinelli by three percentage points. He won despite never having held a public office before and making some questionable business investments.
He also exhibited odd behavior, such as consuming shots of tequila on live television and nearly skipping the birth of his son, preferring to go to a political fundraiser.
Now Republicans are saying that because the results were that close, they actually won the “referendum on Obamacare,” while other political observers point to polls that say that the new health insurance law played only a minor role in the electiion.
It should be noted that to win a "referendum," by the very definition of "referendum," you have to get a majority of votes.
The main factor, pundits say, was Cuccinelli’s extreme, seemingly insane positions on issues such as sodomy — he’s against it — and forced transvaginal ultrasound exams for women seeking abortion services — he’s for them.
Cuccinelli (pictured) even devoted considerable resources to an effort to reinstate laws against anal sex in Virginia, an issue that these days, doesn’t often consume the attention of candidates for major public office.
Republicans in the state are second-guessing their support of Cuccinelli in the first place.
“McAuliffe was probably the weakest Democratic nominee in a generation,” said former GOP Congressional Rep Tom Davis. “You have to ask yourself, maybe we did something wrong.”
Cuccinellli’s running mate, E.W. Jackson, did little to soften Cuccinelli’s image as a wacky right wing extremist. Jackson has described gay people as “sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally."” and called the increasingly popular practice of yoga a tool of Satan.
As his far-right positions alienated large segments of Virginia’s voter base, especially women who didn’t particularly want to be subjected to forced transvaginal exams for any reason, Cuccinelli made rejecting the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare the central issue of his campaign.
Outside Republicans supported his stance. Florida Senator and expected 2016 Presidential Candidate Marco Rubio campaigned for Cuccinelli, telling Virginia voters that a vote for the Republican was a vote against Obamacare.
“This is the first chance that people in America have to speak clearly at the ballot box about the impact this law is having on their lives and our economy,” Rubio said.
In the end, observers left confused about Virginia voters felt about the law, but at least one issue was clear. Alienating women voters is never a good strategy.
“Clearly, an issue that hurt us very badly was the issue of abortion. We are a pro-life party, but if we’re going to be the party of fetal ultrasounds, we’re going to have a problem,” Virginia’s Lt. Governor, Bill Bolling, told the New York Times.