Republicans and Democrats operatives agree that Ken Cuccinelli is heading to a resounding defeat in next week’s Virginia governor’s race, potentially by a double-digit margin to Terry McAuliffe. But the new Washington Post/Abt-SRBI poll, consistent with other reputable statewide surveys, shows just how grim things have gotten for the state Attorney General.
— Terry McAuliffe, despite his reputation, ends the campaign well-liked. A clear majority of likely Virginia voters (53%) view him favorably, with 44% viewing him unfavorably. A 55% majority are satisfied with the field. Few of the damaging stories about McAuliffe’s business record stuck. By a 9-point margin, McAuliffe is seen as “more honest and trustworthy.” And Cuccinelli, in part because of his troubled relations with the GOP-leaning business community, has been badly outraised and unable to drive home a sustained, anti-McAuliffe message on the airwaves.
— The federal government shutdown doomed Cuccinelli’s campaign. Over two-thirds of voters said the issue was important to them, with 55% declaring it “very important.” A whopping 82% of Virginians disapprove of the government shutdown, including 68% of Republicans. Just over half blame Republicans in Congress, and over one-third said they were inconvenienced by the shutdown. (In fact, slightly more Republicans than Democrats in Virginia are employed by the federal government, per the survey.)
— Libertarian Robert Sarvis isn’t a spoiler. Sarvis, who polls at 8%, is at least taking as many votes from McAuliffe than from Cuccinelli. Polled on who their second choice would be, 53% of Sarvis supporters would back McAuliffe, with 42% supporting Cuccinelli. (It’s a small subsample, but other surveys also point to a fairly even split.)
As NJ‘s Beth Reinhard first reported, things have gotten so bad that GOP efforts and money are now concentrating on saving the one salvageable downballot race — the state AG contest. “This should have been a slam dunk. Virginia almost always votes against the president’s party,” former Virginia GOP congressman Tom Davis told The Hotline. “Republicans need to ask what’s wrong with our business model here.”
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A Russian government think tank run by Putin loyalists "developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system." Two confidential documents from the Putin-backed Institute for Strategic Studies, obtained by U.S. intelligence, provide "the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election."
"The FBI last year used a dossier of allegations of Russian ties to Donald Trump's campaign as part of the justification" to monitor Carter Page, who was then a defense adviser to the Trump campaign. "The dossier has also been cited by FBI Director James Comey in some of his briefings to members of Congress in recent weeks."
"The Air Force is set to deploy its high-tech, fifth-generation F-35A fighter jets to Europe this weekend as part of an effort to assure U.S. allies there who are worried about Russian aggression." The new, state-of-the-art fighters will train with European air units. "The Pentagon noted that the deployment had been long planned, meaning it was not a reaction to recent increasing tensions between the United States and Russia," although a statement noted the move is part of the "European Reassurance Initiative," which began three years ago when Russia annexed Crimea.