There aren't a whole lot of high-profile electoral races happening in the next few days, and the highest profile among them -- the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races, and the New York City mayoral race -- already seem to have an air of finality about them. At some point, the 2013-as-a-bellwether-for-2014 articles shall come and go, and then everyone can get on with their lives. But if there's one fun thing we can learn from the limited spate of election options, it's the latest in "what losing campaigns do when they are about to lose."
In New York City, Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio is heading to something of a crushing victory over his ersatz competition, former MTA Chair Joe Lhota. Lhota's campaign, such as it is, has essentially gone out in the last few weeks to reinforce to New York City voters that he is firmly in favor of all the things that New Yorkers currently detest, like a vague continuation of Bloombergish economic policies and the specific continuation of the NYPD's "stop and frisk" program. Not surprisingly, Lhota's been way down in the polls since he won the Republican nomination. He's even losing on Staten Island.
Time for a Hail Mary, I guess! The play that Lhota has drawn up involves an attempt to exploit one of the city's more dramatic stories -- the "biker gang" who intimidated, chased down and later beat the driver of a Range Rover on the West Side Highway:
One of the ironies of an ad that combines mention of DeBlasio voting to take cops off the streets with a dark mention of a future New York in which everyone is terrorized by roving biker gangs of the apocalypse is that there were a bunch of off-duty cops in that "biker gang." So this is one of those things that Lhota maybe should have thought through -- though I guess when you are 45 points down, you're sort of well past the "thinking things through" stage of the campaign.
Meanwhile, down in Virginia, the race between Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and former DNC head Terry McAuliffe is closer. Relatively speaking, anyway -- the current HuffPost Pollster model has McAuliffe leading Cuccinelli by a 45.0-to-36.4 percent margin. The only poll conducted in the Commonwealth in October that had Cuccinelli within 7 points was the "41-40 percent McAuliffe leads" result turned in by a polling firm that I've previously warned you against taking seriously.
Cuccinelli's waning-days strategy has been to get Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul to come and campaign on his behalf. The smart-side part of the strategy here is that if Cuccinelli can convince the 10 percent of the electorate who polls suggest currently plan to cast a vote for Libertarian Party candidate Robert Sarvis to instead vote for him, he might be able to cut into McAuliffe's lead. (There could be some fluidity there -- the latest Quinnipiac poll of the race found that only 56 percent of self-described Sarvis supporters were committed to sticking with the third-party candidate to the bitter end.)
So, how is Paul helping Cuccinelli? Oh, you know, by heading on down to Liberty University and talking about the issues that are really important to Virginians, by which I mean "eugenics paranoia." Per the Associated Press:
During a visit to the Christian school founded by Jerry Falwell, Paul looked to energize conservative supporters by warning that people who are short, overweight or less intelligent could be eliminated through abortion. With one week remaining, Cuccinelli is hoping the joint appearance with the U.S. senator from Kentucky will encourage the far-right flank of his party to abandon third-party libertarian spoiler Robert Sarvis.
As the Associated Press notes, state-run eugenics programs were a thing back at the turn of the 20th century, but "were abandoned by the 1970s after scientists discredited the idea."
Nevertheless, Paul was undeterred:
"In your lifetime, much of your potential -- or lack thereof -- can be known simply by swabbing the inside of your cheek," Paul said to a packed sporting arena on Liberty's campus. "Are we prepared to select out the imperfect among us?"
The ironic thing is that both the Cuccinelli and McAuliffe campaigns are banking on Virginians widely accepting of the imperfect among them.
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