Virginia governor's race 2013: Cuccinelli, McAuliffe race to the finish line

(WJLA) - Six months ago, in the early days of his campaign for Virginia governor, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe almost always pointed out during appearances that he knew he was facing an uphill task against Republican opponent Ken Cuccinelli if for no other reason than history.

Namely, beginning in 1977, no Virginia candidate from either party has won when a member of the opposite party presides in the Oval Office.

He doesn’t much mention that fact these days, and never brings up his failed bid for the Democratic nomination four years ago. Going into today’s election, McAuliffe is ahead by an average of nearly 7 points in all the major polls, so that uphill task is looking more and more like a hill conquered.

These days it’s Cuccinelli who’s beseeching potential voters with something similar to McAuliffe’s early pitch.

Namely, what might seem insurmountable is anything but, and that recent polls indicate the race “is a toss-up,” he said last week.

While campaigning Monday morning for McAuliffe, U.S. Senator and former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner made the observation that the state is changing, and has been for some time – both demographically and technologically.

The day before, on Fox New Sunday, Republican strategist Karl Rove of all people corrected host Chris Wallace’s assertion that Virginia had long been a reliably red state when it came to elections.

Statistics back up both observations.

In the previous 10 presidential elections, Virginia went for the Republican candidate in all but the past two – when Barack Obama was the victor, winning in what traditionally had been key GOP-leaning areas such as Prince William County, which in recent years has seen an influx of Hispanics and other newcomers to the rapidly developing area.

But in the governor’s race, the lines are blurred – be they red or blue or whatever.

Beginning in 1982, Chuck Robb began a string of three consecutive Democratic wins for the executive office in Richmond. His successor was followed by Doug Wilder, who became the state’s first elected black governor.

Wilder was followed by Republicans George Allen and Jim Gilmore, after which the Democrats began a two-cycle run with Warner and Tim Kaine, after which current Gov. Bob McDonnell grabbed the baton back for the GOP.

McDonnell’s well-chronicled problems with the Gift-gate scandal have dogged Cuccinelli, as has the tremendous cash advantage by the McAuliffe campaign, which has hammered its opponent on his admittedly strident social-issue stands. However, in recent days Cuccinelli has seized on the numerous glitches and other damning issues in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, seeing it as a way to make the race “a referendum on Obamacare.”

On the flip side of that, McAuliffe continues to make his own kind of hay with the recent government shutdown, comparing Cuccinelli to Ted Cruz, the architect of the polarizing move.

And then there’s Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis, who has been making both cases and is pulling in about 9 percent of the vote, according the latest Real Clear Politics average of the major polls. Too, the Cuccinelli campaign has said a vote for Sarvis is a vote for McAuliffe.

Real-time election related to real-time events related to real-time history.

The new so-called Virginia way.