Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Fred Barnes has it bass-ackwards with his claim that Republicans have to 'win' the Virginia Governorship. The GOP ought to be able to count on winning, unless they go and 'lose' it... which is what they did.

Barnes says a GOP nominee needs: "a dynamic campaign, an issue, and a president who's not a burden". Actually, all a GOP nominee needs to do to not lose is (1) run a competent campaign, (2) keep the focus on the liberalism of his opponent, and, yes, have a President who's not a burden.

Bush was (and is) such a burden. But Kilgore should have won anyway. He tried to focus attention on his opponent's liberalism, in particular Kaine's opposition to the death penalty, but (1) the death penalty is not an issue that resonates with the middle, and (2) Kilgore did an absolutely terrible job with his ads on the subject.

Proof of my theory can be found in the mid-campaign polls which showed Kilgore strongly ahead - that's reflective of the starting point ANY Republican candidate can count on. But, as the campaign progressed, and voters were exposed to Kilgore, they lost interest in him and went over to the dark side. That's a direct consequence of Kilgore running an incompetent campaign and failing to keep the focus on the aspects of Kaine's policies that would resonate with the voters.

Kaine didn't win this election... Kilgore lost it.