Feb. 9, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

One Down, Two to Go: The Outlook for the 2009 Elections

We are still a few days away from Election Day, but party strategists, operatives and local activists are already blaming their own nominees for their defeats.

The clearest evidence that the Virginia gubernatorial race is over — apart from a blizzard of surveys showing Republican Bob McDonnell well over the 50 percent mark in the ballot test and leading Democrat Creigh Deeds by double digits in many surveys — is that White House insiders have already passed the word that it is Deeds who blew the race.

The assertion by Obama loyalists that Deeds would have done better by embracing President Barack Obama, as they say New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) has, ignores the fact that Corzine comes from a more Democratic state and that because Corzine is in a multicandidate race, he may need only 44 percent of the vote to win. If Deeds gets 44 percent of the vote in Virginia, he will be soundly defeated.

If George W. Bush were still in the White House, Deeds almost certainly would be elected governor of Virginia, so it’s a little difficult to swallow the argument that national politics has nothing to do with the Virginia results. But it’s also important to note that Virginia Republicans united behind their nominee and that McDonnell has kept his focus on jobs, taxes and transportation, rather than stressing social issues.

The ability of McDonnell to roll up big margins outside Northern Virginia, against a Democratic nominee from rural Bath County, can’t be ignored, especially considering all of the growth in Northern Virginia and the hype about the region’s political importance in state races. The red parts of Virginia are acting red again, even against a Democratic nominee who was expected to have considerable appeal in those parts of the state.

In New Jersey, the battle between Corzine and Chris Christie (R) is too close to call. Late polling in the race is all over the place, from Corzine having a mid-single-digits lead to Christie having a slightly smaller advantage.

Recent polls show Independent Chris Daggett getting anywhere from 7 percent to 20 percent, a mind-boggling range. Republican attacks on Daggett in paid media seem to have driven up his negatives, which could help Christie peel off some of the Independent’s supporters.

While Christie should outperform the polls, his own numbers have eroded dramatically. Daggett is proving to be a considerable factor, and he could be Corzine’s salvation. The stronger Daggett’s showing, the more likely that Corzine earns a narrow win. Three months ago, that seemed impossible, which shows how successful the governor’s campaign has been in making Christie the issue.

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