As campaigns enter their final week it seems that Democrats are starting to grasp just what a debacle they’re potentially facing on November 8th, and it’s monumental. With no time left to adjust, finding themselves way behind in their campaign finances, and saddled with “leadership” of the likes of Brian Moran who is doing just a great job of impersonating a deer in a car’s headlights just before it gets run over, their frenzy of simply absurd behavior has been highly entertaining.
First, it’s worthwhile to take the pulse of what the electorate looks like now just to get a grip on what’s going on.
National polling is showing a rather unusual break between the “all respondents” or “registered voters” versus the “likely voters” numbers, and from what I can gather that break is happening to the same or greater degree in Virginia. Obama’s approval/disapproval among all voters is averaging about -6, while among likely voters that number is about -12. So while the general mood of the country is bad for Obama (and Democrats), among the people who will actually show up at the polls that mood is simply awful. Right track/wrong track is running at an astounding 19%-75%, meaning there’s a lot of angry people out there, and apparently the angrier they are, the more likely they will be to show up at the polls.
In the Northern Virginia battleground that has turned sentiment among likely voters against Democrats even into parts of Fairfax County where Democrats thought they were pretty safe. In Prince William County and Loudoun the shift has been even more dramatic, making the numbers that McDonnell racked up the baseline for comparison in local races and leaving the 2008 Presidential Election statistics to be the outlier. Add to McDonnell’s numbers a few additional percentage points to adjust for the changing mood, and you seem to have a pretty decent predictor.
Remember that McDonnell carried Fairfax County 51-49% in 2009, Prince William County by 59-41%, and Loudoun County by 61-39%. That’s the floor here. Races this cycle can go quite a bit higher. So what does this mean in individual races, where candidates and the effectiveness of their campaigns make a huge (if not the) difference, but political tailwinds can make the difference between winning and losing?
13th Senate: Dick Black is a lock, if people who say they intend to go to the polls show up. Mitchell seems to have been ignored by the party lately, which doesn’t seem to be putting any more into this race than it has to. The last DPVA mailer from Mitchell featured a picture of a woman getting an abortion, which just added gasoline to his funeral pyre by utterly enraging Black’s die-hard supporters.
29th Senate: Jackson Miller must be wishing he made a different decision a few months ago as the come-from-nowhere Tom Gordy is surprisingly strong in his campaign against the 36 year incumbent Chuck Colgan. I’m not ready to say Gordy is in the lead yet, but he’s close enough to really be scaring the daylights out of the Colgan team. A strong finish, and Gordy can actually win this seat. Seriously.
31st District: Caren Merrick is closing the gap on Barbara Favola and with some additional support could win this one. Favola isn’t well liked by the Democrat base, while Merrick has tremendous cross-over appeal, solid campaign resources, and a fantastic message to deliver as one of the founders of webMethods, a hugely successful business that brought jobs to the district. Caren could end up being a surprise winner this cycle with a strong GOTV effort and a little help. She is probably the most engaging and exciting challenger candidate this cycle and with such strong candidate appeal has a real shot even though this district has some tough Arlington precincts for a Republican.
33rd Senate: Despite dumping about $35K into television advertising over the last few weeks Herring isn’t seeing the gap widening — in fact it’s closing. Patricia Phillips is looking better every day and is within close striking distance here. With a good ground game she could pull this one out.
36th Senate: Jeff Frederick’s hard work is paying off and scaring Toddy Puller to the extent that Puller ducked a debate on News Channel 8 this past week and is now being propped up with money from the anti-second amendment New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. This one is still close, but very winnable. I am hearing a lot of very encouraging news about this campaign, but knocking off Puller is quite a challenge.
37th Senate: Jason Flanary is running a strong race and is within striking distance of the buffoon Dave Marsden. This will come down to turnout, campaign organization in the final week, and getting angry Republicans to the polls. So far it looks like Flanary is doing all the right things and is in a good position to blindside Marsden.
39th Senate: Miller Baker is in a great position to take out the architect of last year’s horrible Senate redistricting that requires candidates to invest in watercraft in order to traverse their districts, and even divides a single-family residence in the 36th requiring officials to investigate in which Senate race the inhabitants should vote. Barker is desperate, Baker is running a great campaign, and with a good follow-through is well placed to be the new Senator representing this district.
House of Delegates
2nd District: Dudenhefer is taking Esteban Garces to the woodshed. Garces is just too wacky as a Tenants and Workers United candidate, and Dudenhefer is mounting a much more professional campaign here.
13th District: Bob Marshall is in great shape against Carl Genthner, whose campaign has been a no-show this cycle.
31st District: Jeanette Rishell’s former campaign manager is doing just as great a job against Scott Lingamfelter as she did against Jackson Miller, just without posting pictures of used condoms discarded in toilets. Roy Coffey is a joke of a candidate and hasn’t a chance.
52nd District: Torian isn’t doing much, but Cleveland Anderson isn’t either. A missed opportunity to take out Luke Torian. Looks a lot like a reprise of what happened two years ago. That’s too bad, as I really like Cleveland Anderson and know he’d do a much better job representing this district than the incumbent.
87th District: Ramadan is in good shape and running a strong campaign despite some utter idiots protesting his events who can’t tell the difference between someone who attends a Baptist church and a radical Islamist. His opponent isn’t getting much traction, but getting people to the polls is critical. Thankfully this overlaps a lot with the 13th Senate race which will drive turnout, and Black supporters will (and should) overwhelmingly be Ramadan supporters.
Prince William Board
Chairman: Corey Stewart is in such good shape the question becomes whether his challengers will together get more than 50%. For all the money Lateef and Gray are spending, they’re certainly not getting a whole lot for it, as people seem to remember that both challengers here have opposed the Rule of Law Resolution and openly advocated to rescind at least portions of that policy. Being poster children for the illegal alien lobby is no way to win votes in a county-wide election and Corey Stewart is riding the overwhelming approval numbers for that policy right to victory.
Gainesville: Lots of baseless negative attacks from Democrat Ann Wheeler have made this race closer that one would expect, but this is a really bad year to run as a Democrat in the Gainesville district. Peter Candland should pull this one out, but the key is getting volunteers to help with get out the vote efforts and drive people to the polls. Only some portions of this district overlap with competitive, higher-profile races, so turnout is going to be spotty in places unless volunteers and staff work hard to drive turnout. In a low turnout election, surprises are known to happen. Some additional support from elected officials sitting on big piles of money wouldn’t hurt, either.
Woodbridge: Every indication here is that Principi is in trouble and could be blindsided by Chris Royse. This isn’t an easy district for Republicans, and has been long neglected in voter identification and engagement, but Royse is starting to fill this gap and is running a solid campaign that actually is a bit ahead in campaign finances. With a strong finish, Royse could dump the chump Principi and really bring some exciting new leadership to Woodbridge.
In these last few weeks, Democrats have pulled out the standard mantra of trying to brand Republicans as social issue extremists while the electorate is concerned about jobs and the economy. The mailers coming out of DPVA all assume that the negative attacks that worked in some cases two years ago are going to work now, and they won’t. Saddled with having the leader of their party being despised by increasing proportions of the electorate, campaign mailers that are desperate and out of touch, and a campaign funding shortfall that is almost unprecedented in recent times, Democrats are in big trouble.
This is going to be a fun election to watch in the final days.
The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author, and not representative of the position of any organization, political party, doughnut shop, knitting guild, or waste recycling facility, but may be correctly attributed to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. If anything in the above article has offended you, please click here to receive an immediate apology.
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