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Wednesday, October 28, 2009



This from the Washington Post: "Seven in 10 Virginia voters say their views of President Obama, who is scheduled to campaign Tuesday with Deeds in Norfolk, will not be a factor in their choice for governor. The rest are about evenly divided between those who say their vote will be motivated by their desire to express support for the president and those who want to voice opposition to him, suggesting that Obama might not be a decisive figure in the contest and that the race is not the early referendum on the Obama presidency many have suggested it would be." The rest is here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/26/AR2009102602414.html

So if you are correct about how both Republicans and Democrats will spin this race, it appears neither will have much basis in fact.


Actual influence is rather harder to measure than simply asking people whether the President is a factor in their voting. Republicans now seem to be enjoying a pronounced "enthusiasm gap" the effects of which will ripple down the ticket. President Obama has something to do with that. His opposition is energized and his supporters ain't.

But we agree in general. Governor's races are referendums on the two candidates. Almost everyone will make their choice based on their estimation of the two men and what they stand for.

Art Marmorstein

"Virginia has been moving left in recent elections"

Yes, but it seems to me also there was a Democrat bait-and-switch thing going on here. Rahm Emmanuel's "red into blue" strategy involved picking moderate to conservative candidates who sometime ran to the right of their Republican opponents. Particularly true in the South, yes? The left interpreted Dem gains as an endorsement of their policies, but was there a real shift to the left in voter intent?


A couple of observations.

Over a year ago Bob McDonnell took control of the Republican Party of Virginia. He understood that to win you needed to appeal to the middle--which is exactly what he did. He has earned the win. He had McCain and Romney campaign with him--no photo ops with Huckabee and Palin. Might be a lesson there.

If the campaign Creigh Deeds ran is any indication of his executive talent--he's not ready to be Governor. He won a three way primary where the two losers just bloodied each other and he was the last one standing. If either of the two losers had been the nominee they might have made a better showing but win--I don't think so. The mood in Virginia has shifted--probably not much but it created an opportunity.


Good comments. I am not sure that the Virginia election is a referendum on Obama, as the Republicans will argue. But I think the Republican rebound in that state would not have happened if Bush were still President or if President Obama had been the uniter that he promised to be rather than the divider that he turned out to be. In all fairness, uniting the country probably wasn't possible. But when the President did his media blitz a few weeks ago, and intentionally left out Fox News, his people justified it by saying that the Fox audience wasn't open to their message. Perhaps not. But writing off a large portion of the TV audience, including a lot of independents, is surely a divisive strategy. It may not have served the Democrats well in a state like Virgina.

Art: yes, the Democrats have managed to run a lot of conservative candidates in red districts. Smart strategy for elections, but it has given them a lot of headaches as they try to move legislation.

Gene: Your analysis seems on the mark. McDonnell shows that a very conservative candidate can build a strong campaign by enlarging his coalition. That looks like a recipe for success. And yes, Deeds has been a poor campaigner. But that is a indication that Virginia is, if purple, more redish than blue.

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