Thursday, April 16, 2009

Are the Democrats Underperforming in Virginia?

In the race for Virginia’s governor, three Democrats will face each other in a June Primary while the GOP has their candidate all but officially nominated.

Who Are the Candidates?

•Terry McAuliffe - Democratic political consultant, former DNC Chair, and campaign manager for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign

•R. Creigh Deeds - Democratic State Senator and the 2005 nominee for Attorney General

•Brian Moran - formerly a Democratic House of Delegates member and the House Democratic Caucus Chair, also the brother of U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA)

•Bob McDonnell - formerly the Republican Attorney General

What’s Happening?

Recently Governor Tim Kaine convinced the three Democratic candidates to sign a petition to expand unemployment benefits so the Commonwealth could tap out the appropriate stimulus money. The GOP-controlled House of Delegates recently shot down a bill to do so.

Republicans are calling it a political stunt for an election year. But even if it is, it will probably work. With underemployment increasing as fast (if not faster) than unemployment, Virginians will appreciate the effort Democrats are making to look out for them.

Of course, the Democrats have a lot of ground to make up.

According to a recent poll released by Daily Kos and conducted by Research 2000, if the election were held [last week] McDonnell would beat each of the Democrats in a General Election.

If the general election were held today, the poll shows the results would go like this:
McDonnell 37% Moran 36%
McDonnell 40% McAuliffe 33%
McDonnell 38% Deeds 31%

Part of the reason for McDonnell’s lead is that the Democrats are all attacking each other - they have to: it’s a Primary. And it’s a wide-open Primary. The same poll also tracked support among the Democratic candidates for the Primary…

Moran is ahead with 24%, McAuliffe (who was leading in February) is behind with 19%, and Sen. Deeds is in last with 16%. That means 41% of Primary voters are still undecided. There are still two months before the Primary comes to a close, but that will be plenty of time for McDonnell to stay ahead of the divided Democrats.

What is the Party Doing?

The Democratic Party of Virginia is certainly concerned about keeping the Governor’s office, but they’re also becoming increasingly invested in taking the House of Delegates - one of the last places of GOP control in the Commonwealth.

The extent of their pressure on McDonnell appears to be press releases.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Governors Association has put some money into the race. They gave $100,000 to Common Sense Virginia, an anti-McDonnell PAC. That group is using the money for web ads.

Common Sense Virginia today is rolling out online commercials attacking the all-but-official Republican gubernatorial nominee for his views on women’s issues…

…With three Democrats battling for their party’s nomination for governor, McDonnell is using the preliminaries of the 2009 campaign to reposition himself as a moderate interested only in practical solutions…

…The ads will run for at least two weeks. They’re being posted on sites popular with women. Among them: Martha Stewart Living, Every Day with Rachel Ray and Women’s Entertainment Television.

But using new technology is not always useful. Common Sense Virginia clearly put a lot of time into their website, which is simply not the most effective thing they can do in their efforts to beat McDonnell. Meanwhile their web-ads are too long and require the viewer to do a lot of reading.

And for the few people that will see it, they won’t help but notice the majority of the comments under the video and on the PAC’s YouTube page.

jtvagop (1 week ago):
So the attacks on McDonnell's religion have finally started. You should be ashamed of Your intolerance.

perfidious2 (17 hours ago) :
your ads are false and all of virginia knows.

fishbait888 (17 hours ago)
"the common sense virgina ad is totally false"
-the post



At this point it seems that Virginia Democrats are either lacking the organizational skills or resources to mount an effective campaign against Bob McDonnell. Luckily there is a good five-month period between the Primary and General Elections for the nominee to do the grunt work. And McDonnell has planted the seeds of his defeat himself by opposing the stimulus package.

But if the current lackluster campaigning continues, Virginia’s Blue Sweep cannot continue in Virginia. GOP backlash to Democratic priorities has already been seen this week in Tea Party protests across the country. The Republican base is mobile and active, even in less exciting times on the political calendar.

In fact, Democrats everywhere need to get the donors and volunteers active again - and soon - to counteract this backlash. Perhaps nowhere is a more critical starting point than the Blue Sweep’s poster child - Virginia.

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