VA special election: Republican trails by 10 votes in big Democratic district

A few leaves for your 2014 tea reading from John McCormack at The Weekly Standard:

A special election held Tuesday for a Norfolk-based state senate seat should have been an easy win for Democrats. President Obama won the district by 15 points (57 percent to 42 percent) in 2012, and Democratic governor-elect Terry McAuliffe won the district by roughly 12 points (52 percent to 40 percent) just two months ago.

But as of Wednesday evening, we still don’t know the result of the election, which will determine control of the Virginia state senate. As election officials continue to double-check the accuracy of vote tallies, Democrat Lynwood Lewis holds just a 10-vote lead over Republican Wayne Coleman.

“I’m amazed that Lewis didn’t win by more in that district,” says Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “Lewis is a member of House of Delegates. Coleman’s barely known.”

Sabato goes on to suggest this poor performance for Democrats, particularly in a special election, could speak to a substantial enthusiasm gap between motivated Republicans and blase Dems.

Here’s hoping. As is customary, almost no one will notice this election whereas a similarly good performance for a Democrat in a similarly Republican district would be a National Story of the Coming ’14 Comeback.

As for the comeback, January is looking better for Democrats than December, but that should be little comfort as December was horrible. The high/lowlights:

After a plunge which saw his job approval rating drop from 46 – 48 percent in August to a negative 38 – 57 percent December 10, his all-time lowest score, President Barack Obama has stopped the drop, but not started the rebound, with a negative 41 – 53 percent job approval in a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

Women go negative 44 – 49 percent, unchanged from last month. Men are negative 36 – 58 percent, compared to 31 – 64 percent last month, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN- uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. Negative approval is 9 – 86 percent among Republicans and 35 – 58 percent among independent voters. Democrats approve 81 – 15 percent.

The 2014 congressional races are tied as 38 percent of American voters say they would back a Republican candidate, while 37 percent would back a Democrat.

Voters want Republicans to take the U.S. Senate 46 – 42 percent, with independent voters going for the GOP 45 – 40 percent. Looking at the House of Representatives, 46 percent want Republicans to keep control and 44 percent want Democratic control.

Independents still want Republicans in charge of the Senate, and I’ve heard that segment of voters is growing. President Obama’s only positive rating comes on terrorism, and one wonders how much coverage of Robert Gates’ revelations might change that, if at all:

Obama gets a negative 35 – 61 percent approval rating for handling health care. His ratings for handling other issues are:

Negative 39 – 58 percent on the economy;
Negative 34 – 60 percent on the federal budget;
Positive 52 – 41 percent for handling terrorism;
Negative 41 – 51 percent for handling foreign policy.

Exit question: Is this what momentum looks like?