Rubio can't help Cuccinelli win but Obamacare remains problem for Democrats
National Democrats were fast to link Sen. Marco Rubio to Ken Cuccinelli's declaration that the race was a referendum on Obamacare. Rubio picked up that talking point while campaigning with the Virginia Republican on Monday.
Cuccinelli lost Tuesday.
But Democrats shouldn't be too bullish. Exit polls showed Obamacare was a major reason why Cuccinelli was able to close the gap, after polls showed him lagging far behind of Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who enjoyed a major fundraising advantage. Congressional Democrats are worried the issue will persist heading into next year's elections, deflating any gain they got from the government shutdown and a souring public opinion of the tea party.
Democrats still get to spin the outcome as a repudiation of the tea party (which Rubio has stuck close to, save for immigration) and some of the hardline positions Cuccinelli took on social issues. Women -- unmarried women in particular -- rejected Cuccinelli in waves. Florida Democrats think they can paint Gov. Rick Scott in the same extreme light. Read more on that here.
One irony of the Rubio-Cuccinelli connection: Even as the Virginian called in Rubio and other conservative stars at the last minute, the government shutdown played a role in his loss Tuesday. Rubio helped spearhead the defund Obamacare strategy that led to the shutdown.