In a rare consensus, political scientists agreed Thursday night Terry McAuliffe bested Ken Cuccinelli in the gubernatorial debate at Virginia Tech. It’s not that the Democrat “won” the contest – he just didn’t lose ground.
Cuccinelli elicited a few laughs from the Haymarket Theater audience when he said McAuliffe’s education policies were like puppies – “everyone loves them.”
"With Terry, it's all puppy and no plans. I like puppies, but it’s not a plan," Watchdog.org reported.
But the Republican failed to dent public opinion polls’ sense of inevitability about McAuliffe’s well-oiled campaign juggernaut.
The former Democratic National Committee chairman, who brings in Bill Clintonfor added firepower at campaign stops next week, has the political winds at his back.
Even conservatives were feeling unsettled. “Yes, we all love puppies, but at this point in the race, my friends are looking for Ken to bring out a junkyard dog,” Rick Buchanan, who edits the Greene County Free Citizen, told Watchdog.org.
“Was there a winner? Yes, the person who goes in on top and maintains his position wins. The debate itself was probably a tie on points, but a tie for McAuliffe means he maintains his advantage,” said Quentin Kidd, political science professor atChristopher Newport University. “I don’t expect the overall dynamic of the campaign to change as a result of the debate.”
Stephen Farnsworth, political scientist at the University of Mary Washington, said, “One key lesson of the debate is that candidates should not try to be Jon Stewart. Comedy doesn’t work well – be it about puppies or unicorns.
In an interview with Watchdog after the debate, Cuccinelli cited his accomplishments as a lifelong Virginian and asserted that McAuliffe doesn't give a "rat's tail" about the Old Dominion.