June 11, 2009 [LINK / comment]

McDonnell vs. Deeds "rematch"

Four years ago, Bob McDonnell beat Creigh Deeds in the race for attorney general by a razor-thin margin of just a few hundred votes, and now the same two candidates are vying for the highest office in the state. It will be fascinating to see how that rivalry is played out this time around, when the tables have turned in terms of shifts in the respective parties' strength. For obvious reasons, McDonnell has to play it safe, even though his Republican Party has been shut out of the Governor's Mansion for the past eight years (and is therefore very eager to get back in), while Deeds is aggressively "hunting" (he's pro Second Amendment) for new voter groups.

At augustafreepress.com, Chris Graham exuberantly touts "The Deeds juggernaut," asserting that the Democrats' nominee for governor has an advantage in both geography and policy. Here is my take on all that:

Deeds' advantage is not so much that he is a relative moderate or can pull votes from NRA members, but rather that he has a reputation for doing what is right, regardless of party affiliation. Both he and McDonnell understand the current political climate, that the independent voters who care more about results than ideology are the key to victory. It will come down to which candidate offers the clearest plan for tackling economic AND social problems. In that sense, McDonnell is on very solid ground, and thus far has a clear edge. If Deeds can present a more substantial agenda than merely continuing the Warner-Kaine policies ("Me too!"), he might chip away at McDonnell's advantage with independents, in which case it could boil down to which party is more enthusiastic for their candidate. So far, McDonnell has been a master at smoothing over differences among the fractious Republicans, whereas Deeds is something of an outsider among Democrats, and his support among the party "base" remains very uncertain.

And speaking of accents, McAuliffe sounds more "foreign" than any of them! The Dems are lucky he lost the primary race.

Home town support

Thanks to Bob Gibson on Facebook, I came across a cool page at VPAP.org, with maps showing county-by-county election results in statewide races back to 2004 or so. The map of the recent Democratic gubernatorial primary election reveals that turnout in Creigh Deeds' 25th Senate District and in the Washington suburbs was higher than average, while it was lower than average here in the Shenandoah Valley and in southwestern Virginia. The map of the 2005 attorney general race also shows that Deeds has strong support from folks in his own area.