Warner will enjoy support from some key Virginia Republicans. Some will support him in obvious ways, such as endorsing him or hosting events for him. Many others will support him in quieter ways, by failing to support the Republican nominee and encouraging other Republicans to do likewise.
Warner will win, and the current narrative will then seem inevitable fact: Democrats are retaking Virginia, and there’s nothing Republicans can do about it.
Though the election is a few weeks away, I suspect we can agree that this much is correct: Warner is enjoying overt support from key Virginia Republicans (he employs Ken Stolle’s former LA), he’s ahead 26 points in the polls, and his coattails are surely helping Barack Obama maintain his ten point lead in Virginia, causing the entire nation to wonder if Virginia is about to go Democratic. So that half of the thesis is correct.
But the other half of my forecast is tough for me to verify. As a Democrat, I’m not in a great position to determine how well this has panned out:
The RPV will be furious. If all of this has any effect on the Republican nominee, it will be that the process will result in an even more conservative nominee than would otherwise have resulted. There will be calls for party purification and declarations of war on the incumbents supporting Warner. It will be enormously ugly. As they always, always do, Virginia Republicans will manage to drive the most sensible, electable Republicans out of the party, leaving them with an ever-shrinking group of ideologues who are still willing to sign whatever pledge is necessary to show that they’ll toe the party line.
Many of my Republican friends are simply supporting Warner. They’re not fussing about it, they’re just not supporting Gilmore and that’s that. That’s just the sort of passive opposition to Gilmore that I expected. (With Gilmore at 31%, apparently a lot of Republicans feel that way.) But if any party chairs are up in arms about this, I haven’t heard a thing about it.
So here’s my question for you, Dear Readers: Have you seen any evidence of Republican reprisals against Warner supporters? (Or seen evidence to the contrary: that Republicans are being given a pass on this election?) Post a comment or, if you’d rather, e-mail me if you’ve seen this sort of thing.