From governor to attorney general and state House, Democratic candidates are campaigning on guns—and painting their opponents as extreme. This cycle, the strategy looks like a winner.
Never mind that Terry McAuliffe all but avoided the issue of gun control until two weeks ago. But Clift believes that a victory for McAuliffe will mean a big sea change on the issue of gun control in Virginia.
The massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007 is still fresh in people’s minds, and with the recent shooting at the Navy Yard, which is geographically in Virginia’s backyard, voters are more open to hearing politicians talk about gun safety. The same Washington Post poll that has McAuliffe up by a dozen points found that 86 percent of those surveyed support background checks; just 10 percent oppose, with 4 percent undecided. On the campaign trail, McAuliffe emphasizes that he is a hunter, that he owns guns, and that supporting measures that keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill does not interfere with the rights of hunters.
Clift notes that a large percentage of the public supports background checks. But I bet that the Post did not carry the question to the next step, and ask if those people believe we should have to perform background checks on friends that we have known for 20 years or fellow gun club members that we have known for similar amounts of time, or on family members before private citizens transfer their private property. I'd bet a completely different response would be received. .
There is a reason that Bloomberg has targeted Northern Virginia voters in both the statewide races and House of Delegate races - because that is the only part of the Commonwealth where the NRA is not viewed as favorably as in the rest of Virginia. So, in the end, if McAuliffe wins, it will not be because there has been any great change in the dynamics of the gun issue in Virginia. It will be because Terry McAuliffe, spent like a drunken sailor to define Cuccinelli:
|Courtesy of Jim Geraghty's Morning Jolt|
...and, as Jim Geraghty put it this morning in the Morning Jolt, Cuccinelli's "whistling past the graveyard" thinking because he had always been outspent, that getting clobbered by a 2-1 margin would not make a difference.