There are plenty of reasons the noxious Ken Cuccinelli is trailing lackluster Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia gubernatorial race. A new poll released by Bloomberg last night reiterated the conventional wisdom: Cuccinelli has championed Republicans’ losing social ideology, and now he’s going to pay. Perhaps more interesting is The Washington Post’s observation that the looming shutdown could hurt Cuccinelli when it crushes the North Virginia suburbs. In an article last night, the Post warns that “Fairfax, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties—where tens of thousands of federal workers live—are particularly vulnerable” to Congress’s budgetary caprices.
“Those suburban communities are home to an array of federal agencies, including the CIA, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health,” the Post points out. “Fairfax is also home to about 4,100 federal contractors, who, in 2012, took in a combined $26.4 billion in federal contracts, according to the county’s economic development authority.” With Fairfax slipping through his fingers, Cuccinelli may be regretting his decision to bring Senator Ted Cruz, poster boy for shutdown, on the campaign trail.
From his Tea Party ties to his social crusades, Cuccinelli may be, as Slate’s Dave Weigel writes, too conservative for Virginia. He is certainly caught in a net of sinking identity politics—especially thanks to his views on women. He's a vocal enemy of Planned Parenthood (an organization his running mate has compared to the Ku Klux Klan), and he opposes abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. He has also tried to do away with Virginia’s no-fault divorce law, which, as Amanda Marcotte has written, “would make Virginia the only state in the country not to have a law protecting its citizens’ ability to unilaterally end a marriage without giving a specific reason,” and could have grave implications for women trying to leave abusive marriages. Meanwhile, when Bloomberg polled respondents on state abortion laws, it found that
Thirty-nine percent said current restrictions have gone too far and some should be repealed, while 29 percent said the current restrictions are acceptable yet states shouldn’t do more. Even a majority, 51 percent, of Republicans say either the current level is fine or states have gone too far. Four in 10 self-described party members want lawmakers to press for more limitations.
No wonder then that recent polls give McAuliffe an edge of between 18 and 27 points among women. And this brings us back to the ways the debt ceiling showdown could be harming Cuccinelli’s chances: Earlier this week, some House Republicans argued (unsuccessfully) for tacking a late-term abortion ban onto a bill for a debt ceiling increase. It’s almost as if they’re trying to hasten Cuccinelli to his political grave.