McDonnell: 'They beat us on the ground'
November 7th, 2012
11:06 AM ET
10 years ago

McDonnell: 'They beat us on the ground'

(CNN) – After weeks of touting a robust army of foot soldiers charging ahead with GOP get-out-the-vote efforts, Virginia governor and a top surrogate for the Republican ticket Bob McDonnell conceded that President Barack Obama's campaign trumped Republicans on the ground game.

CNN projected that Obama would win re-election late Tuesday night, besting Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the swing state of Virginia by three points. With 97% of precincts ballots in, Obama pulled ahead – 51% to Romney's 48%.

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McDonnell said last night was "tough" for Republicans on CNN's "Starting Point" Wednesday.

"They beat us on the ground," said McDonnell. "I thought we'd win close; we lost close. Half the margin of 2008, but they did a good job."

While Romney's campaign organized a ground game better than Sen. John McCain’s in 2008, Obama's ground game had years to formulate, beginning with his successful presidential bid over four years ago. Then, the Illinois Sen. Obama won Virginia by six points over McCain.

While Ohio tipped the president over the 270 electoral vote threshold needed for re-election, it was Virginia that propelled him to a decisive lead, 303 electoral votes to Romney's 203.

"Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would have been good leaders, but the president, in a poor economy, did a very good job articulating his message and having a very good ground game," he said.

Republicans were also defeated in the race for a U.S. Senate seat. In a high-profile, expensive contest lasting over a year, GOP contender George Allen conceded to Democrat Tim Kaine on Tuesday night. At the time of Allen's concession speech, Kaine was ahead of Allen 51% to 49% – with 76% reporting.

Republicans need to do better on a national level, McDonnell said, also adding that he had spoken with Allen following his defeat.

Specific to the Old Dominion, McDonnell, who appeared on CNN earlier Election Day, said that Romney needed to do well in the Washington D.C. Beltway area – Loudoun, Fairfax and Prince William counties - in order to take the state. Obama bested Romney in all three of those counties by no less than five points this time around, just as he did in the 2008 election.

The light at the end of the tunnel for Virginia's GOP? The congressional races.

"We won eight out of the 11 congressional races in Virginia, so at the more local level Republicans did very well," said McDonnell, though again noting the party's necessity to polish their image among independents in the Beltway counties.

"We're losing the exchange as you see up there in Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun so we've got to do a better job in explaining to people why the conservative view of America is better for them and their pocket books."

House Speaker John Boehner will hold control of the lower chamber with a Republican majority while the Senate will stay in the hands of the Democrats and the White House under Obama.

Filed under: 2012 • Virginia
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. just sayin

    the new america is a welfare state. a message of lower taxes is meaningless when most pay none. the new america wants free governemnt stuff and somebody else to pay for it. let's just do it and get it over with. i'm getting tired of working and getting nothing for it but more demands on my paycheck. i am moving over to the government dependent catagory. time to get whatever i can get before it all ends.

    November 7, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  2. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Part of the ground game is that the GOP focused on the presidential primaries and not setting up anything for the general election in the fall. There are also some other issues that relate to policies that the parties were espousing which may have driven some away from the GOP.

    November 7, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Governer, you beat yourselves. I guess more folks watched the GOP primaries than most Republicans thought.

    November 7, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |

    The Republicans just will not except the truth and the facts. You did not lose due to your ground game, but rather your policies and obstructionism in congress. Maybe Republicans should stop answering to Grover Norquist and do what is best for the American people.

    November 7, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    BTW Gov. Ultrasound, pass this message along to your Attorney General who thinks he's going to be the next governor of Virginia. He's got another thing coming. Mr. COOCHinelli will go down just as Willard did.

    November 7, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  6. linda

    You lost because of your politics, your our way or the Highway mentallity, you catering to extremists like TRUMP (that thinks we should start a revolution now) Limbaugh, West, Akin, Murdock, Beck, Palin, your pandering to the extreme far right religious, your stance against abortion, Immigration, same sex marriage, your party lives in the "50"s unwilling to change with the times, and making lame excuses for your loss instead of facing reality is what is going to keep you will never see the White House again until your party is ready to move to embrace the moderates in your party instead of telling them they have to be conservative or you aren't have to start working at your jobs at reaching across party lines or 2016 will be another banner election for the Democrats

    November 7, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
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