If the polls are correct, the only thing Democratic gubernatorial wannabe Creigh Deeds will win in next month’s election is an award for one of the worst-run campaigns in the Commonwealth’s history.
Republican Robert F. McDonnell has taken a commanding lead over R. Creigh Deeds in the race for governor of Virginia as momentum the Democrat had built with an attack on his opponent’s conservative social views has dissipated, according to a new Washington Post poll.
McDonnell leads 53 to 44 percent among likely voters, expanding on the four-point lead he held in mid-September. Deeds’s advantage with female voters has all but disappeared, and McDonnell has grown his already wide margin among independents. Deeds, a state senator from western Virginia, is widely seen by voters as running a negative campaign, a finding that might indicate that his aggressive efforts to exploit McDonnell’s 20-year-old graduate thesis are turning voters away.
Much of the movement since last month has come in Northern Virginia, where Deeds’s 17-point lead has been whittled significantly, even in the area’s left-leaning inner suburbs.
The poll indicates that the GOP is well-positioned to emphatically end a recent Democratic winning streak, with Republicans Bill Bolling and Ken Cuccinelli each holding identical 49 to 40 percent leads over Democrats Jody Wagner and Steve Shannon for lieutenant governor and attorney general.
When the post-mortems begin after this election, the pundits and prognosticators will shake their heads and wonder: What happened? In Deeds’s case, the question should be: What didn’t happen?
With less than a month to go before the election, the Deeds campaign is in the crapper because the candidate ran a crappy campaign. From start to finish, his run for office will serve political science classes with a textbook study on how to lose an election.
The Post story continues:
The survey reflects the trend of the campaign over recent weeks. After being on the defensive since his thesis was published in late August, McDonnell has been able to retake momentum by focusing on issues, such as the economy and transportation, and articulating his vision to voters. McDonnell has been aided by airing twice as many campaign ads in Northern Virginia.
By double-digit margins, voters say that he would better handle virtually every major issue facing Virginians, including transportation, taxes, education, the state budget and the economy. Only on issues of special concern to women does Deeds hold a tepid 47 to 41 point advantage.
Also in recent weeks, Deeds has struggled in several appearances in Northern Virginia, including a debate last month in Fairfax County that he followed by bungling questions from reporters about whether he supports a tax increase. That lengthy scene has been turned into a campaign commercial by Republicans and is airing across the state.
Deeds screwed up early by trying to turn the election into a referendum on former President George W. Bush and the economic policies of that administration. He forgot the first rule of elections: All politics is local. Voters don’t give a damn about a past President when it comes to a state election. They want to know what the leadership in Richmond is going to do to help them.
All indicators point to a loss by Deeds in November and a sweep of the top offices by a Republican Party that was declared DOA just a year ago.
McDonnell is a flawed candidate with a checkered past but he has run a better campaign than his opponent. That’s what will matter on election day.