Coming off just a few weeks of positive, biographical television ads, and a lively debate with his opponent, Daniel Gade and his insurgent Senate campaign in Virginia are starting to achieve liftoff at the critical moment in the race. Timing is everything in politics, and the post-Labor Day sprint is on. And things are getting real.
According to well-known analyst Nate Silver’s website, FiveThirtyEight, Lt. Col. (ret.) Gade has closed with his opponent, Sen. Mark Warner, starting from a 21-point gap in a Roanoke College poll for August 9 to 22 to a 13-point gap in a poll by Christopher Newport University for September 9 to 21, an eight-point move, basically, in a month. This is a swift climb in the polls for a challenger who is facing an incumbent with a 9-1 advantage in fundraising, plus two terms in the United States Senate and one as governor.
Another intriguing data point is that President Trump closed his nine-point polling gap in the Commonwealth with former Vice President Biden, now within 5 percent, in the same time frame. That said, Trump has only clawed his way back close to the same margin he lost to Sen. Clinton in 2016, 5.32 percent.
The national party, big donors, and conservative-leaning organizations need to take note of Daniel Gade’s Senate race and put another state in play for Mitch McConnell.
The president will have a hard time carrying Virginia given the antipathy towards him by voters in heavily populated northern Virginia, home of many federal workers, contractors, and generally liberal residents. Still, Trump needs to pull in voters from the rest of Virginia, where Lt. Col. Gade needs to pile up large margins to offset the Washington, D.C., suburbs. So the president’s numbers reverting to the mean is a good thing. This and Gade’s movement indicates the GOP base is consolidating and recognizing that its senatorial candidate is more than viable.
I have argued previously in The American Spectator that Daniel Gade is a most impressive candidate as a veteran, severely wounded soldier, West Point grad, family man, and academic. He is a supremely confident and articulate campaigner, a natural leader who can mesmerize an audience with his personal story of heroism and sacrifice. His skill was nowhere more evident than in the Virginia senatorial debate last Wednesday.
Recall that the debate was hosted by the NBC affiliate in Washington, D.C., with Chuck Todd moderating. Gade deftly focused on issues appealing to a broad common denominator for that particular media market. Yet he was not afraid to take the battle to Sen. Warner, calling him “Mark flip” and “Mark flop” on issues such as Supreme Court confirmations and ripping into him for lying — Gade’s words — about the Republican candidate’s stand on insurance coverage for preexisting conditions. Gade declared, bluntly, that he lost a leg in Iraq. Why would he not support such coverage?
So how does Daniel Gade pull off an upset in this Senate race? Age quod agis, as my grandfather used to quote St. Ignatius of Loyala, founder of the Jesuits: “Do what you are doing.” Gade needs to continue his relentless focus on raising every dime he can; keep his television spots on the air while shifting to a more combative mode to contrast his views from Warner’s; maintain his skilled, constant, and persistent use of social media and live-streaming; and, of course, sustain his campaigning throughout Virginia, leveraging his appearances and events in the local media and online. All this he is doing and doing well. Execution is not his problem.
What does need to happen, but is outside Gade’s control, is for the national party, big donors, and conservative-leaning organizations need to take note of this race and put another state in play for Mitch McConnell, as I have written before in The American Spectator. They need to invest dollars, mailings, and electronic media on behalf of their exciting, hard-working Republican Senate candidate. Money is, for good or ill, the “mother’s milk of politics.” And the Gade campaign could use a lot more of it.
The great Branch Rickey once said, “Luck is the residue of design.” Daniel Gade is positioning himself nicely for the advent of national support in what is becoming an exciting quest to move the Virginia race to the “toss-up” category. The national party just needs to make it so.