5 Things Republicans Need To Learn From Virginia And New Jersey

As journalists across the country struggle to put meaning to the Virginia and New Jersey races that occurred earlier this week, I see five lessons Republicans of all stripes need to learn quickly – as in, before any more elections are held.

1) Campaign like an amateur, lose to a Clinton goon: Did the Republican Party give up on Ken Cuccinelli too early? Perhaps, although it couldn't exactly have planned for the Obamacare launch to go so cosmically bad. Was the Libertarian candidate a stalking horse? Also perhaps, but he appears to havedrawn votes roughly equally from Cuccinelli and former Clinton bagman and now Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe.

But, even though McAuliffe was a dog with serious and well-known fleas, Cuccinelli's truly hapless campaign allowed the Democrat to paint their man as an extremist and a brigadier general in the War on Women. It's not the issues that must be thrown overboard to win – equally pro-life Chris Christie captured 60 percent of the vote in even-bluer New Jersey, and Bob McDonnell dominated four years earlier on a firm pro-life platform. It is that voters sensed Cuccinelli was distancing himself from his own issues. If he didn't want to be near them, they didn't either.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report

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Analysis & Political Strategy