Since the October 1 launch date of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or “Obamacare” program, it has been rather clear that Republican political candidates will be using the program’s failure as a main political platform during the 2014 election cycle.
While Republicans might gain some traction with their argument given recent polling data, they might want to look closely at the recent Virginia gubernatorial race for more clarity in what they are up against.
Last week, Democrat Terry McAullife won the race with 1,065,205 votes. Republican Ken Cuccinelli II finished with 1,010,335 votes. That’s just a little under 55,000 votes.
Libertarian Robert Sarvis garnered 145,560 votes to finish third.
In the previous 2009 race, there were only two candidates, with a Republican winning by 300,000 votes.
So what happened here? Well, for starters, the Republican Party itself is split.
Cuccinelli is a member of the conservative Tea Party side of the GOP while those in GOP leadership are more on the moderate side.
The Republican Party of Virginia and RNC never really backed Cuccinelli. The candidate received just $843,085 from the state’s Republican Party for help in the race while the RNC gave him just $85,098.
In 2009, the Republican candidate received $2,704,348 from the state’s Republican party and $2,253,500 from the RNC.
So if the GOP wants the democrats to win any race where a Tea Party candidate wins the nomination, then democrats are excited to take advantage of this in-fighting.
Along with the GOP’s problems, democratic advisers and fundraisers may have found another way to help themselves. In the Virginia race, the largest contributor to the Libertarian Booster PAC was billionaire Joe Liemandt. Liemandt gave the party $150,000 and is the group’s biggest donor. This is the same man who, according to CQ Moneyline, gave $175,200 to the DNC since 2010.
Liemandt is well known in democratic circles. He was among three dozen of President Barack Obama’s largest campaign bundlers attending a state dinner in 2012.
Meanwhile, Sarvis was not the typical Libertarian, small-government candidate.
He is a supporter of the so-called “mileage tax,” which would require GPS systems to be installed in all vehicles.
Former presidential candidate Ron Paul, who though a Republican is considered a Libertarian, said anyone voting for Sarvis would be “insane.”
By just being in the race, Sarvis received votes from those disenfranchised by both parties. Many consider those votes to be “protest votes,” though it’s hard to determine just how many Sarvis voters, if he weren’t in the race, would have voted for the other two parties.
All of these things added up to Cuccinelli losing the Virginia race for governor.
Republicans will likely see third party candidates on many future election races.
Democratic supporters have taken notice on how they won this race. Wisely, they’ll repeat this path to victory until the GOP finds a way to stop them.
Even with Obamacare doing so poorly, I personally don’t see the GOP getting out of its own way during the next political cycle while smart democratic strategists initiate their plans with precision.