The Campaign Spot

What’s Going on in Virginia?

It’s a rare day when a Rasmussen poll unnerves Republicans, and they can take solace in a poll commissioned by Daily Kos. But that’s what’s happening in Virginia, where Rasmussen’s latest puts Republican Bob McDonnell up by only two percentage points over Creigh Deeds, 48 percent to 46 percent. Two weeks ago, Rasmussen had McDonnell up by 9 percentage points.

The Daily Kos poll by Research 2000 puts McDonnell up 50–43, trailing among women by only 3 percentage points and leading among independents, 51 percent to 38 percent.

Could Rasmussen be right? Could the thesis story, and relentless ads suggesting McDonnell wants to take Virginia back to the “Dark Ages” (I am not exaggerating), really have taken a race that looked like a blowout to neck-and-neck? Well, some of this was expected; Deeds was underperforming among some key Democratic demographics who were likely to “come home” at some point.

On the other hand, if Deeds can use a thesis to demonstrate that McDonnell has unacceptably socially conservative views and erase a gap of 15 percentage points in the middle of a deep recession where the state’s unemployment rate is the worst in 25 years, it will obliterate much of what we thought about Virginia politics. Note that even as the Post was beating George Allen over the head with “macaca” in a miserable year for Republicans nationwide, he lost by four-tenths of one percent.

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