Well, it is all over but the shouting…and lord has there been plenty of that.
Cooch and the Hoot dueled to the last minute of election day, and following the unofficial count and the official canvas the Hoot is still ahead by 92 votes. The difference between the two is .002%, or 1/5 of one percent. In Virginia the loser of an election with a margin of victory of less than 1/2 of one percent can request a state funded recount after the official results are certified. However, recent strides in voting technology make it extremely unlikely that the 92 vote margin will change unless there is some huge malfunction discovered…and since the canvas (essentially a count) was conducted with a fine tooth comb, I doubt the margin will change.
Consider the McDonnell-Deeds race in 2005…McDonnell wins by 323 votes out of 1,943,250 votes cast-a difference of .00016%. Deeds requests a recount, and nothing changes despite having a significantly narrower margin. It was in part the fact that no numbers changed in this race that led both GOP and Democrats to urge George Allen to not ask for a state funded recount (although he was eligible to do so) because of the unlikelihood of the overall result changing. Allen did not ask for the state recount, a decision that was applauded on both sides of the aisle.
Now the shoe is on the other foot, and attitudes are different now-at least if the blogosphere is any indication. Democrats posting at RK and at NLS are urging Hoot to ask for a recount while at the same time criticizing GOP posters who say that Hoot should concede the election. I guess sometimes it is easier to talk the talk than to walk the walk.
I say let her have the recount. The Democratic pain at not winning this seat goes deep, and I can only imagine the whining that will ensue if she goes not go the recount mode and take every step possible of winning this election.
But sooner or later Hoot is going to have to own up to the fact that she lost…and when that happens the recriminations that have already flown about will ramp back up. They can be found at different places, and are quite critical of Hoot’s campaign manager. There are also calmer examinations of the Hoot campaign. I agree with the analysis offered by AIAW, especially on the matter of trying to fight the election on a Pro-Life/Choice platform. I noted several times that with immigration, transportation, education, and other issues of greater public concern at play in this election that repeatedly focusing on stem cell research did not seem like anything except a way to motivate the base-and if the democratic base was not ready to storm Fortress Cuccinelli on day one, then Hoot had some fundamental problems going on.
But all this wringing of hands in Democrat land overlooks one thing-Republican state Senator Ken Cuccinelli ran the ideal campaign, and he should be congratulated on that. I do not mean perfect-there were glitches along the way, like the failure to have any presence at all at Day 2 of the Burke Centre Festival. But Cooch set up a fundamental plan, put it in motion and stuck to it. He did not make elementary mistakes, not did he make mistakes that created an opening for Hoot to jump in. While both sides went on the attack, Cooch used Hoot’s verbal stumbles to argue she was not ready to be a state Senator without casting her as a bad person. He also did not respond to fishing expeditions by Democrats trying to create issues, nor did he do anything stupid that gave Hoot an opening to come after him-compare that with the JMDD-Chap! mailing thing.
Why should Cooch be hailed for running the ideal campaign? Because it is something that GOP candidates seem increasingly unable to do. GOP candidates in tough races almost always give in to the urge to do something cute that they are sure will just devestate the opposition-but more typically puts a final nail in their own coffin. Instead, Cooch stuck to the basics and did not allow blood lust to overcome his judgement. He did not succumb to over-eagerness or being over-cutesy. He went back to the basics to win the campaign, and now he is going back to the Senate.
Cooch created a plan, stuck with it, and did what he had to do to give himself his best chance of winning…and it paid off. He won a re-election campaign that no one outside the true believers really thought he had a chance of winning.
Gosh, if that is not the ideal campaign, what is?