In the Virginia US Senate race, George Allen is doing better than Mitt Romney and Tim Kaine is doing worse than Barack Obama. Furthermore, Kaine’s numbers have weakened over the last three months. How can a former governor who is also a consistent and visible supporter of Barack Obama also post worse numbers than the President in his home state?
The following charts compare the senate candidates to their party’s presidential nominees. The data comes from Real Clear Politics.
In the 32 polls that polled both the presidential and senate candidates, Allen has outpolled Mitt Romney 18 times while Kaine has outperformed Obama 11 times. Since Allen won the Republican senate primary in June, Kaine’s numbers have been lower than Obama’s by an average of 2.3 percentage points.
What explains this overall pattern? Certainly no one can accuse Tim Kaine of distancing himself from Barack Obama. He continues to fervently support Barack Obama on Obamacare, taxes, war on women, and immigration; and he chides Democrats who have untethered themselves from Obama.
Kaine’s proposals are theoretical. His main pitch is that we need to create a “Talent Economy”. This is transparent plea to spend more stimulus and education dollars and to make the immigration Dream Act law. However, many people believe that we already spend enormous sums on government-run education and we are not seeing results.
Furthermore, our more pressing problem, some would say crisis, is not about building some new future “Talent Economy” but to save the current Real Economy from fiscal Armageddon. If Tim Kaine (who has a BA in Economics) had read a little more Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek, then he could be making tangible contributions in unwinding our fiscal mess.
Lower Personal Favorability than Allen
According to recent polls that include favorability data, Allen’s Total Favorability has typically been higher than Kaine’s ; and Kaine’s Total Unfavorabily has been worse than Allen’s. This probably comes as a shock to WaPo readers.
The other recent polls (Gravis Marketing on Sep 8-9 Allen +5) and (NBC/WSJ/Marist on Sep 9-11 Tied) and (CBS/NYT/Quinnipiac on Aug 6 Kaine +2) did not report favorability data; presumably they didn’t collect it. The chart does not include people who said that they were Unsure.
Update: See my update in the comments about today’s Rasmussen’s poll.
Kaine’s Role as DNC Chairman Undermines His Bipartisan Claim
After you have been hand-picked by a divisive president to run the Democratic Party machine, then it becomes a tough sell to convince people that you are a moderate. Kaine was preceded by Howard Dean and backfilled by Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (who does a flawless Beetlejuice impersonation.) As head of the DNC, Kaine’s primary function was to serve as Obama’s chief fundraiser and political advocate – a role that only a true believer can fill.
And during his DNC tenure, Kaine no longer had any reason to temper his liberal beliefs; so he became openly left on the social issues, judges, DOMA/DADT, or entitlement spending. Take abortion for example. Kaine presented himself as a candidate with deep Catholic faith who led voters. Now, Planned Parenthood holds fundraisers in New York City in his honor and he is a featured speaker at their rallies.
During the June NoVa Tech Town Hall Q&A, we heard the business community ask Kaine and Allen what their position was on sequestration, which impacts the defense contracting community. Allen’s answer was direct: immediately repeal it because you don’t make cuts in defense like that with a war on, overseas unrest, or after having already made defense cuts. Kaine said that Congress needs to make a plan, which is to say he was caught flatfooted in of all places, Democrat-rich Fairfax.
Later, Kaine made matters worse by trying to link sequestration to the impending tax increases in January (which includes reviving AMT by the way). What he has been trying to do is use the defense budget as political leverage to increase taxes on the 1%. This gamesmanship does not sit well and it looks like the business as usual horse-trading that gave us sequestration and a $16 trillion debt in the first place. Kaine also proposed raising Social Security taxes and imposing an Internet Sales Tax during the Town Hall.
Kaine was the Democrat’s “break in case of fire” candidate, much like how Jim Webb was plucked out to run against Allen in 2005. Kaine is a good fundraiser and he spins a good yarn; but he doesn’t seem to quite have the same heart for politics. The 2010 mid-term referendum on Barack Obama was not a resume enhancer for Kaine.
I have listened for Kaine to state why he is running, and all I hear are statements like America simply has to elect Barack Obama or that he is running to keep Virginia from back sliding. These are not positive rallying cries.
In addition, Kaine is not getting much exposure. His 60+ appearances at small businesses and now his recently announced meetings in 50 private homes for the next 50 days are typically not covered or are not open to the public. Perhaps Kaine is like many, if not most, candidates who are content to let this election be a second referendum on Barack Obama so he can’t be blamed if the Democrats lose.
Debatable Fiscal Management Claims
Kaine regularly says that he balanced the 2010-12 biennial budget and made the “tough cuts”. However, voters may be learning about the true Kaine-budget story. For example:
- Virginia’s constitution requires a balanced budget.
- In Virginia (and a dumb process to be sure), just before the outgoing governor leaves office, he submits a budget for the next two years. In the case of one-term Virginia, that always means a different governor; so there is no requirement to sell or implement your own proposed budget. This is like asking the CEO who is leaving a company to design a multiyear strategic plan for his soon to be former employer during the exit interview with Human Resources.
- Kaine’s proposed budget cuts were both random and temporary. However, his tax increases were permanent. There was no guiding strategy in downsizing the state’s budget.
- Kaine significantly raised college tuition, which many Virginia parents and students with loans can attest.
- Kaine was multitasking in 2009 serving as governor and DNC Chairman. Jim Gilmore (R) did the same thing; however, in 2009 Virginia was experiencing the effects from a national recession and Kaine was begging for stimulus money. That was hardly the time for a sitting governor to start moonlighting for his next job. Today he touts cutting his pay; actually he owes Virginia a refund for 2009.
- The incoming McDonnell administration found close to $1 billion in unspent transportation funds, which made Kaine look foolish especially after arguing over transportation funding throughout his term.
Kaine also vigorously supports Obamacare and reflexively attacked Paul Ryan’s fiscal plan. These are not the actions of a politician who is prepared to make unpopular decisions and to start cutting the debt.
Those are my explanations as to why our former governor is not performing well as the POTUS in his home state. Admittedly, it’s pure opinion since we have no data on these issues. But there is something wrong with the Dem strategy or the candidate given his consistent polling gap.
But perhaps the answer is simple, Tim Kaine always has been, is, and always will be a taxaholic.
Cross-posted on DefeatTimKaine.com