I guess anything can still happen, but it sure looks like Terry McAuliffe is going to be the next governor of Virginia. It's worth noting that this breaks a very long-observed historical trend in the commonwealth. In every gubernatorial election sincce 1981, Virginians have elected as their governor the standard-bearer of the opposite party from the man who won the presidential election the year before.
So it's always been as if Virginia looked at what the country did one year and decided to do the opposite the next. It even more often than not did the opposite not only of what the country did, but of what it did with its own electoral votes the previous year: Reagan-Chuck Robb, Reagan-Jerry Baliles, Bush Sr.-Wilder, Bush Jr.-Warner, Bush Jr.-Kaine, Obama-McDonnell. So: what's this mean?
Maybe not a lot. These things just happen. McAuliffe is benefiting of course from the presence in the contest of that libertarian guy, without whom Ken Cuccinelli would probably be winning. But his presence itself is a reflection of where the Republican Party and the conservative movement are these days: From a libertarian perspective, even the stone-age Cuccinelli isn't pure enough.
For his final push, Cooch is bringing in Rand Paul and Marco Rubio. Great. He's still out there trying to pump up the Tea Party wingnut vote. So he's not even really trying to compete in the center. whereas McAuliffe has had the Clintons and, this past weekend, the president (a crazy radical to some of you, I know, but not to the centrist voters of Virginia, who backed him twice).
I know some Republicans are griping on background that Cooch is losing a winnable race, and they attribute the expected loss to some tactical errors. But he's losing because he's an extremist. He has alienated most swing voters, especially women. The gender gap in this contest is going to be 20 points. Indeed it was 25 in one recent poll. McAuliffe might even win outright among white women (traditionally, Democrats win the women's vote but lose among white women and make up the ground among women of color).
This isn't because of anything tactical. It's because Cuccinelli wanted to stick probes up women's vaginas in the name of some medieval morality crusade. Democrats tend to have mixed feelings about McAuliffe. Well, whatever he is and is not, he doesn't want to do that. And as governor he's going to reverse the corrupt McDonnell and accept the ACA Medicaid funds and try to make the health-care work in a state that will be important to his friend Hillary in 2016.
And most of all, the odious Cuccinelli will, we hope, be sent into the retirement for keeps. That, all in all, is a pretty good day at the office.