Democrat Terry McAuliffe appears on the cusp of a solid victory over Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) following a gubernatorial campaign that underscored ongoing Republican struggles with female voters.
McAuliffe’s lead in the polls was built on a clear gender gap. The Democrat exploited a big fundraising edge to deluge the airwaves with ads focused on Cuccinelli’s opposition to abortion, his views on contraception and his failure to support the federal Violence Against Women Act.
Cuccinelli sought to refute the Democratic theme — that he has waged a “war on women” — with ads featuring an African American woman calling McAuliffe’s attacks on his social stances “ridiculous.”
“Cuccinelli couldn't get out of his own way and got slimed with the war on women attack,” says GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. “He never got outside the conservative echo chamber.”
Mitt Romney was hurt by the same argument, as were a number of Senate candidates in 2012.