By Doug Heye, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
With President Barack Obama campaigning for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds at Old Dominion University today, talk is swelling that Deeds's campaign is all but over.
A Washington Post poll released late yesterday shows Republican Bob McDonnell with a 55-44 lead over Deeds. Such a lead is, of course, tough to overcome. It's even tougher when polling data demonstrate there's little room to move upward:
- 49 percent of respondents in southeastern Virginia who voted for Obama told the Post they are certain to vote November 3, compared to 73 percent of McCain voters.
- McDonnell leads with independent voters 61-36.
- More than 60 percent believe Deeds is running a negative campaign, while a majority feel McDonnell's campaign is positive.
- In issue breakdowns, McDonnell beats Deeds on the economy (+17), transportation (+16), taxes (+25), and women's issues (+7).
While the first two points tell the "tale of the tape," the latter two tell much of the real story of the election these past weeks. While Deeds, with a hat tip from the Washington Post, seeks to scare female voters over a college thesis written by McDonnell years ago, voters are focused on issues directly affecting them, and receiving a positive message supporting McDonnell from one of the nation's most prominent women business leaders, Sheila Johnson.
That Johnson is African-American should not go unnoticed, either. The McDonnell camp shows that even in the Age of Obama, it is both possible and necessary for Republicans to work with minorities. Johnson's support, Richmond Mayor Douglas Wilder's neutrality, and the support of organizations such as the Vietnamese-American National Chamber of Commerce give the GOP a model to learn from.
Most significant, however, are reports that the Deeds campaign has cut its television spending for the last week of the campaign from $1 million to $400,000. It not only signifies the lack of campaign funds available to the campaign, but also the lack of enthusiasm from Virginia and national Democrats—demonstrated in the number cited above of southeastern Virginia Obama voters, but also by White House officials anonymously criticizing the Deeds campaign last week.
"The only poll that matters is the one on Election Day," the old cliché goes. There is truth to it, as anyone who has won a come-from-behind campaign will tell you. But without the resources necessary to blanket the airwaves (voters in the Washington, D.C., media market will now see an average of four Deeds ads over the next week), it's akin to fighting with one arm tied behind your back.