The Campaign Spot

In Virginia, McDonnell Leads Democratic Opponents by a Mere 7 to 13 Percentage Points

Daily Kos had Research 2000 do some polling on Virginia’s gubernatorial race, both primary and general-election matchup. I think this will probably shock some readers, but I find nothing to disagree with in the analysis from Markos Moulitsas:

Democratic Primary

Brian Moran (D) 22 (24) 

Terry McAuliffe (D) 36 (19) 

Creigh Deeds (D) 13 (16)

A pretty dramatic gain for McAuliffe in the last six weeks for an election that will be decided in about three weeks (June 9), while Deeds and Moran essentially tread water. Let’s look at favorable/unfavorable ratings for the Democratic candidates among Democratic respondents:

Moran (D) 56/16 (56/15) 

McAuliffe (D) 62/19 (55/17) 

Deeds (D) 56/17 (55/12)

That could explain the movement in the head-to-head matchup — while Moran has remained steady and while Deeds has edged back, McAuliffe has managed to move his favorability numbers forward despite an increasingly negative primary.

General election matchups

Bob McDonnell (R) 42 (37) 

Brian Moran (D) 35 (36) 

Bob McDonnell (R) 44 (40) 

Terry McAuliffe (D) 34 (33) 

Bob McDonnell (R) 45 (38) 

Creigh Deeds (D) 32 (31) 

Moran still performs best against McDonnell, but he’s lost ground. That’s to be expected as the Democratic candidates take shots at each other. What generally happens is that once a winner is crowned in a contested primary, there’s a bandwagon effect that boosts the winner in the head-to-heads. So the general-election numbers will inevitably tighten up post-primary, but there’s no doubt McDonnell will be a tough opponent with all the early advantages. Here are the favorability ratings for all candidates, from all respondents:

Moran (D) 35/36 (36/33) 

McAuliffe (D) 37/40 (35/36)

Deeds (D) 35/36 (34/30) 

McDonnell (R) 53/33 (48/31) 

While the Dems have all lost ground in their favorability ratings, McDonnell has been able to stay above the fray, edging his slight higher (a net +3). And at +20, he has a big advantage over the the -1 net favorability ratings of Moran and Deeds, and -3 of McAuliffe. And with 36 percent favorability from Democrats and 52 percent from Independents, McDonnell is showing some strong cross-over support.

So whichever Democrat emerges victorious in three weeks (and this thing is still anyone’s game with 29 percent remaining undecided in the primary) will still face an uphill climb against McDonnell in the general election.

Of course, by concurring with Markos’s analysis, I’ve probably damaged his street cred.

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