Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: email@example.com
Surprise, surprise: Public Policy Polling says that instead of a wide-open race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Virginia, Creigh Deeds has opened a wide lead. The details:The undecideds have broken almost exclusively to Creigh Deeds in Virginia's Democratic primary for Governor, allowing him to open up a double digit lead 36 hours before voters in the state head to the polls.
How shocking are Deeds' gains? Well, he was at just 14% in a PPP survey from early May. On the other hand, Nate Silver makes a useful comparison between this race and the 2004 Democratic Iowa Caucuses, noting:These kind of dramatic late swings happen more often in primaries than in general elections, and more often in multi-candidate fields than in two-candidate ones.
General elections usually aren't very volatile because large groups of voters are either loyal Republicans or loyal Democrats. In a primary, where all of the candidates are Democrats and most of the voters are Democrats too, the campaigns have a lot more potentially persuadable voters with which to work. In Virginia, none of the three candidates were especially well-known commodities, which has made late shifts even more likely.
All of which raises a question: Could voters still shift to McAuliffe or Moran? In announcing their survey, Public Policy Polling tackled that question:Voter preferences in this election are about as fluid as in any race PPP has ever polled. The fact that Deeds went from 20% to 40% in two and a half weeks speaks pretty strongly to that. There have always been a lot of undecideds, and we have repeatedly showed that even many voters with a preference are open to changing it. Usually voter preferences are pretty hardened by 48-72 hours before an election but if there was ever one where that could change this would be it. That said, Deeds' margin is pretty commanding.
Another caveat to add is that PPP is the first pollster to find such a big lead for Deeds (they're also the pollster that was in the field most recently). This poll could be an outlier.
As Deeds himself tweeted:Lots of good news out there. Only counts if we turn out the vote tomorrow. Keep pressing
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