Recently BlueVa opined that pollings shows that President Obama is a complete non-factor in this years Governors race and goes on to quote polling data, etc., to say that it is ridiculous to call the McDonnell-Deeds contest a referendum on President Obama.
Now two new polls show Bob McDonnell opening an even larger lead against Creigh Deeds, and is is a lead large enough that even most fervent Dems are writing of a potential blowout next week with jarring consequences for Democratic candidates in HOD races.
A particular passage from the PPP polling data that is causing this wailing and gnashing of teeth:
There is some indication in the recent polls that Democratic voters are giving up on this race. At the beginning of September 38% of likely voters were Democrats. By the end of the month it was 37%, a week ago it was down to 33% and now it’s at just 31%. That trend has major implications for the party’s candidates further down the ballot.
I am not a pollster, nor do I play one on television. But a margin this large (even in a contrarian state like Virginia) makes me wonder how can President Obama NOT be a factor? Anecdotal evidence has me thinking that Obama is likely part of the equation, and the Democrats ignore that to their peril as the 2010 mid-term elections begin to peer over the horizon.
It is no secret that Creigh Deeds has not run a good campaign. Maybe he really did not think he would get the nomination, and that was why his reaction was so slow. First he didn’t know about the thesis (no oppo research?). Then he focused on the thesis without making the case for himself. Next came verbal blunders on matters of importance to the electorate in general (taxes) and his liberal base (public option). Things have not gone smoothly for Brother Creigh.
However, I don’t think you can write off the margin to a bad campaign and liberal voters who are unhappy with the nominee. I think that the reality is that Obama, or the national issues he is driving, is having an impact.
Consider the last 25 years or so of gubernatorial elections:
1985-Baliles-Reagan second term, no real national issues (iran contra/Bork hit after the election)-no presidential backlash, Baliles wins by 10.4 points.
1989-Wilder-Supreme Court decision spurs abortion angle, African-American running for Governor, recession not yet here, no presidential backlash, Wilder squeaks in (just out of recount territory)
1993-Allen-Health care backlash in full sway, Terry runs terrible campaign, Allen swamps-real possibility of presidential backlash, which came full circle in the 1994 mid-term elections. (15%+ difference)
1997-Gilmore-Car Tax, no presidential backlash, Gilmore swamps Don Beyer (13% difference)
2001-Warner-aftermath of 9/11 freezes electioneering and focus remains on bad last year of Gilmore admin and tech meltdown mini recession-no presidential backlash
2005-Kaine-campaign between two statewide winners (v. Kilgore), bad GOP juju begins with the mismanagement of Hurricane Katrina efforts and bad news from Iraq-minimal presidential backlash begins and reaching to future elections, but not enough to carry Democratic ticket.
What I see is an electorate that focuses primarily on Virginia issues. Without an absorbing state issue (car tax) the only time we have seen a margin of more than 10% was in 1985 when Wyatt Durrette had adopted very conservative positions on a variety of issues as a result of his 1977 loss of the AG nomination…and paid for it in the general.
I don’t see that this election is all about President Obama…but if the final margin stays as high as these polls indicates it currently is, then anecdotal evidence suggests that Obama is a factor. The only time a Virgina governor’s election has seen margins like this was in 1993 when there was significant dissatisfaction toward Bill Clinton.
Yep, I know…crazy talk. But politics is as much art as science, and I suspect that the ground is becoming more fertile by the day for a significant GOP comeback in 2010-and if the Democratic Party doesn’t think Obama is a factor in that process they could be looking at consecutive unhappy November “victory parties”.