Jim Geraghty

Polls Show Virginia GOP Within Distance Of Sweeping Four Targeted House Seats

In 1994, a year after George Allen led a historic landslide Republican victory in the Old Dominion, Virginia was, for the most part, left out of the national limelight in the even more historic national Republican wave that won the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate for the first time in more than 40years. Oliver North lost a hotly contested Senate race to Chuck Robb and the GOP picked up only one House seat (the 11th, Tom Davis) while Republicans were winning in all corners of America. Was reason given by pundits at the time was that Virginians had gotten the protest out of their system in 1993. This year, following last year's more-impressive-than-1993 Bob McDonnell-led-landslide, Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins has been fond of saying that to take back the House, the GOP needs to gain 40 seats; 10 percent of that is here in Virginia. Now, as Jim Geraghty of National Review's Campaign Spot blog writes today, polling information shows those victories may be within reach: Three Republican challengers in those four targeted districts are leading their Democrat incumbent rivals, with a fourth closing fast. Here's the breakdown:

» In the 2nd Congressional District, Republican Scott Rigell leads Democrat Glenn Nye, 48.6 to 34.5 percent.

» In the 5th District, Republican Robert Hurt leads Democrat Tom Perriello, 51.1 to 34.7 percent.

» In the 11th District, Republican Keith Fimian leads Democrat Gerry Connolly, 42.2 percent to 36.7 percent.

» In the 9th District, Republican challenger Morgan Griffith is down to Democrat Rick Boucher only 42.6 to 39.7 percent. However, one poll had Boucher up by 20 points about a month back, then by only 8 points a couple of weeks ago. The recent fallout over Mr. Boucher buying a brand new Ford with campaign funds while Virginians in the Southwest part of the state are suffering particularly hard during this recession could easily factor into a quickly narrowing gap.

The rest of the respondents in each poll were undecided. Tellingly, though, the poll, conducted by ccAdvdertising, does not include independents or third parties. Although not a top tier polling outfit, the snapshot does provide a glimpse of what directions the campaigns are going and who has momentum.

Not all landslides are the same and electorates can swing back from whence they came in a very short time. But this year, Virginia Democrats have much going against them, much more so than in 1994. Many of the circumstances that drove people to the polls and to the GOP in Virginia and in blue New Jersey (and deep blue Massachusetts in January) last year are still around: Primarily, as in the case of Congressman Boucher, this:

This love is going to last, but that might not be a good thing.

And this:

He's doing fine, representing liberal special interests rather then his constituents.

DNC To Pull Plug (And $5 Million) From Deeds?

RedState.com's Moe Lane blogged early this morning that the Democrat National Committee — the organization headed by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine — is going to hold back $5 million from its gubernatorial candidate, Senator Creigh Deeds (see here). Lane based his post on reporting from Jim Geraghty at the campaign spot blog at National Review Online (see here). Geraghty, in turn, took his info from a report in The Augusta Free Press ("The Valley's Progressive News Source") where Chris Graham writes:

The bad poll news comes on the heels of a story circulating in Democratic circles today that the Democratic National Committee is reportedly holding on to its $5 million financial commitment to the Deeds campaign out of concern that the Deeds campaign has focused too much of its attention on the controversial Bob McDonnell 1989 grad-school thesis setting out a hardline social-conservative political agenda for his budding political career and not enough on putting down a framework for what a Deeds administration would do for Virginia.

If true, the irony rivals fantasy — pulling the plug for his obsessive negative ads and hammering Republican Bob McDonnell on "divisive social issues." Looks like it's only dividing the senator from his campaign lifeline. But then again, maybe it's because the DNC saw this and this.

About Tuesday Night, In Alexandria: Are You Listening Brian Moran?

As mentioned in the previous post, there was a shocking result Tuesday night in Alexandria: A Republican, Frank Fannon IV, and a GOP-endorsed independent, Alicia Hughes (a former Miss Black USA), won seats on the city council by defeating Democrat incumbents (see Washington Post). Hughes, a federal government patent attorney, could not run as a partisan because of the Hatch Act. It was the first Republican election victory to the Alexandria City Council since 2000 (Alexandria Times, here). That's right — Democrats had whitewashed Republicans ever since. If this was Little League, they would have invoked the "mercy rule" long ago.

Of course, many, including GOP establishment types, are tripping all over themselves to talk about a nascent Republican ripple in Northern Virginia, after this and a Fairfax special election win in March, as well as two nail-bitingly close special election losses early this year. Meanwhile, Fox News and Weekly Standard pundit Mary Katherine Ham had her own, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, take (here).

But what caught our eye is not what the Republicans have learned since November or what new campaign techniques they're using to counter the much advanced Democrats, as fascinating as that is (see Alexandria Gazette here), it's what Democrat gubernatorial candidate Brian Moran must learn before the June primary.

As Jim Geraghty of National Review's Campaign Spot blog writes:

"There are also some interesting signals about the upcoming gubernatorial primary and general election. Ginsberg worked a polling place yesterday, and said he saw a supporter of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe handing out literature — but not one for the candidate with the local roots, Moran. 'I don't know to what extent the Moran people were working the polls for this election, but this result, coupled with the race for his state House seat, should be reason for some concern on his part.'"

The seeming paradox here is that as Moran as moved further and further to the left (see here), perhaps the most liberal locality in the Commonwealth is edging —granted, at an Eastern Box Turtle's pace — to the middle. Beside last night, his Democrat successor retained his House seat by a mere 16 votes in a January special election. So, if his liberal message isn't resonating there, where will it? Furthermore, whether he wins the Democrat nomination or not, will his campaign have pulled the Dems too far left, even for certain portions of blue Virginia? It all remains to be seen, of course, but the interim trends are fascinating.