I know it shouldn't be all about winning...but that doesn't mean it doesn't feel great tonight as Republicans sweep in the Old Dominion.
My fear is that national Republicans will trumpet this as a sign that America is rushing back to them. Let's face it, they're not-Independents are merely turning away from Democrats and Republicans, tired of losing, were motivated to get out and vote this year. But it shows that people are willing to listen to the Republicans and give them a chance. If they're smart they'll use it as an opportunity, and Republicans in 2010 and beyond would be very wise to use the McDonnell campaign as a template for future success. His oft-discussed thesis, in which he espoused some fairly antiquated ideas and what became the centerpiece of the Deeds' campaign, should have signaled the death knell of his gubernatorial (sorry, CW) hopes. Astonishingly, it had virtually no impact.
Why? People just don't care about that stuff in 2009. Liberal fatigue in Washington helped McDonnell, but the candidate himself deserves a lot of credit for running a brilliant campaign. Positive, disciplined, cheerful to the point of corny, and in tune with the electorate's concerns. He focused like a laser on those concerns and images of McDonnell just screamed 'competence.' Remarkably, he only slightly retracted some of the thesis comments, and otherwise made no apologies for any of them. This isn't Utah-this is a very purple state and it just elected an unapologetic social conservative.
The social conservatism is a whole other discussion, and I'm straying from my point, which is this: if the GOP runs good candidates, those candidates have a clear, concise and consistent message that is reflective of the public mood, and execute a positive and focused campaign, they will win. Period.