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Democrats Hope To Use McAuliffe's Win As Model For Midterm Elections

In 2013, Democrats across the country took note of Terry McAuliffe's win in Virginia's gubernatorial race. Now they're hoping to use that "Virginia model" to win nationally in the 2014 midterms, and they're trying to make their case with one Virginia Republican in particular.

In spite of polls showing dissatisfaction with both Republican Ken Cucinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe, Virginians flooded voting booths in the off-year election, giving McAuliffe the chance to become the commonwealth's seventy-second governor.

"He won because he used tools and technology to turnout a rising American electorate at near-presidential levels, near-presidential turnout levels," says Rep. Steve Israel (R-N.Y.).

During the 2014 election cycle Israel is heading the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He says the 2013 race in Virginia — the issues used to win and the impressive get out the vote effort — is giving his party its roadmap to a winning 2014 cycle.

For Democrats to control the House, Israel needs to capture seats like the second district of Virginia, currently held by Republican Scott Rigell.

"Congressman Rigell as a prime example of somebody who owned the entire field, so he could fool all the people all the time. When he wanted to paint himself as a moderate, he could. When he wanted to paint himself as a tea party conservative, he did," he says.

With Congress polling at historic lows, it's evident that voters are tired of politics as usual in Washington. Rigell is trying to tap into that sentiment.

"No one is happy, I really believe, with both parties," he says.

While Rigell votes with his party more than 90 percent of the time, he also opposes Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge. Rigell also rejected his party's strategy on defunding so-called Obamacare that led to the government shutdown.

"Look, every single American is harmed by gridlock, which means that we're going to have to give a little bit on both sides," he says.

Kyle Kondik, a campaign analyst with the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, says Rigell's seat will be a key indicator in the 2014 campaign. The congressman maintained the seat even as the president won his district, but Kondik says he's dubious of Democrats' attempt to use the Virginia model to excite voters.

"The big problem for Democrats is that just generally speaking their voters don't turn out in midterms the way they do in presidentials. We saw that in 2008, 2010 and 2012  Democrats win two presidential races and sandwiched in between it is this horrible, horrible loss in 2010," he says.

With moderate Republican Frank Wolf now retiring from his Northern Virginia seat, the commonwealth will witness two hotly contested races in the 2014 cycle. Democrats need to capture seventeen Republican seats nationwide to regain control of the House, and they're hoping to use the Virginia model to turn Congress a little more blue.


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