Today, the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County Republican Parties held their monthly gathering at the Woodgrill Buffet in Harrisonburg. The featured speaker at this event was Dr. Robert Roberts, a professor of political science at James Madison University. The topic of the day revolved around the upcoming 2013 statewide elections.
Dr. Roberts painted a not particularly rosy picture for Republicans, pointing out the recent shake-up in the Cuccinelli campaign coupled with declining poll numbers for the attorney general, especially among women voters, does not bode well for the candidate. According to his historical data, public opinion typically shifts little between September and November and should this trend continue, the Cuccinelli camp is in serious trouble; Cuccinelli has not led a poll since mid-July. Someone in the crowd argued that Cuccinelli was heavily behind late in his 2009 run for attorney general and managed to overcome that deficit. However, the polls from that time suggest that speaker was in error, Cuccinelli seems to have led throughout that contest. Dr. Roberts also pointed out that the Cuccinelli campaign’s attempts to smear McAuliffe and make him appear unelectable have failed. Curiously, when he asked the Republican crowd what Cuccinelli’s first campaign issue was, no one in the group knew of his plan to cut the state income tax.
As for the lieutenant governor, Dr. Roberts predicted that the average Virginia voter will find E.W. Jackson too extreme, based primarily upon his opposition to gay rights, especially gay marriage, and the issue of abortion.
Moving to attorney general, Dr. Roberts offered some measure of hope to the Republicans, reminded them that Virginia has not elected a Democrat to that post since Mary Sue Terry in the late 80’s. However, even that race he thought was far from over for either candidate. Although certainly not as talked about, the latest PPP poll has that election within the margin of error.
Given his predictions of a general Republican defeat, Dr. Roberts seemed like a rather curious choice for speaker at this event. Not surprisingly, his comments seemed to upset a goodly chunk of the audience. However, I found it interesting that his opinions closely mirror my own from last week, which suggested a result similar to 2001 where the only Republican victory was in the attorney general’s race.
Will Dr. Roberts words come true?