Miscellaneous Thoughts on the Virginia Governor's Race

I have a few more thoughts on last night's election and the one that's ahead in November in Virginia: -Besides being in a ...
by | June 10, 2009

I have a few more thoughts on last night's election and the one that's ahead in November in Virginia:

-Besides being in a swing state and besides being one of only two governor's races this fall, the race between Bob McDonnell and Creigh Deeds will draw national attention because of the role of stimulus politics. The Republican-led Virginia House of Delegates rejected stimulus money to expand unemployment benefits. McDonnell supported that decision, while Deeds thought the state should have accepted the money.

-Could the issue that won Deeds the primary lose him the general election? Deeds picked up the Washington Post's key endorsement in large part because he has supported additional transportation funding, including an increase in the gas tax. I'm sure McDonnell will try to use the gas tax against Deeds.

-Speaking of the Post, while the editorial board can crow that they made a difference for Deeds, the paper's reporters shouldn't be so pleased. The Post took the anachronistic view that only polls conducted by live interviewers are reliable enough to report. That meant that when two automated pollsters showed Deeds with a double-digit lead, the Post still was saying a day before the election that the Democratic primary was "a race without a clear front-runner" and on election day headlined their story, " Primary Hinges On Voter Turnout."

-The Post isn't the only one who ate a breakfast of humble pie this morning. Don't forget that Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association) endorsed McAuliffe just days ago. You can see a visual representation of Schweitzer this morning here.

-There are two big ironies in McAuliffe's defeat. He struggled during the campaign to overcome the perception that he was a creature of the Beltway -- too slick and without enough of a background in Virginia politics. Yet his fellow Beltway denizens ended up rejecting him. He finished a distant third in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church.

Secondly, as Virginia blogger Not Larry Sabato predicted, McAuliffe's performance wasn't what you would have expected from a former chairman of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. The only congressional district he won was the 3rd, which has an African-American majority. Barack Obama quadrupled Clinton's vote total in the 3rd. Clinton only won one district against Obama: the 9th, in the Southwest corner of the state. McAuliffe was trounced in the 9th, where Deeds took 68% of the vote.

-Both the Democrats and the Republicans will have good geographic balance on their tickets. Deeds is from Western Virginia, Democratic Lt. Gov. nominee Jody Wagner (the only woman on either ticket) previously ran for Congress in the Hampton Roads area and Steve Shannon, the attorney general candidate, is from Northern Virginia. For the Republicans, McDonnell is from Hampton Roads, incumbent Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling is from the Richmond area and Ken Cuccinelli, the AG candidate, is a state senator from NOVA.

-Democrats currently have a 21-19 edge in the Virginia Senate and senators terms run through 2011. However, the statewide races could shift the balance of power. If Deeds wins, the Republicans will have a chance to gain his seat in a special election. If Cuccinelli wins, Democrats will have a good opportunity in his Democratic-leaning district.

-In Bath County, where Deeds is from, Moran received 5 votes, McAuliffe received 25 votes and Deeds received 800 votes.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com  | 

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. You can enter an anonymous Display Name or connect to a social profile.

More from Politics