The WaPo’s Mark Fisher notes that many of the people supporting Mark Warner for Senate are having a hard time rallying around Barack Obama:
In interviews in some evenly-split areas of Fairfax County, I encountered quite a few Democrats and Republicans alike who are Warner admirers, but have deep doubts about Obama. In some of those interviews, people who are certain they’re going to vote for Warner (and for Fairfax County board chairman Gerry Connolly in his congressional race) say that those selections may fulfill their duty to the Democratic party, sort of freeing them up to go with John McCain for president.
This obviously puts Warner in a pickle, and really, all he can do is campaign hard for Obama and make the argument that those who support him ought to also go with the man at the top of the ticket. But Warner has always presented himself as a bipartisan or post-partisan figure, and while much of that is mere rhetoric, it nonetheless resonates with those who view him as a reasonable person and no-nonsense businessman. Warner made it clear that he has no intent of acting as a Democratic attack dog.
He says he told Obama’s people from the start that “if they want a slash and burn, contrasting speaker, that’s not me.” Warner’s obviously not going to run away from Obama, but neither is he likely to traverse the state bashing McCain–at least not too hard, given that his whole shtick is that he draws (and needs) independent and Republican votes.
Warner agrees that despite Obama’s power to bring out big crowds in some fairly conservative places (he named Manassas as an example), there are parts of the state where he is personally popular but where Obama is a tougher sell. “In Southside and Southwest and parts of the Valley, Sen. Obama’s got to translate that enthusiasm of some into a willingness of larger numbers to listen” to his message, Warner says.
This is consistent with a phenomenon that I’ve been noticing as I drive around Northern Virginia. I’m starting to see people with Mark Warner and John McCain bumper stickers on their cars. The first one was a curiosity, but after I started seeing it more often I started wondering if it was a sign of something.
Fisher’s column would seem to indicate that it is.
One thing is clear; Mark Warner has a massive lead over Jim Gilmore in the Senate race, while Barack Obama and John McCain are statistically tied. Clearly, a lot of people who are planning on voting for Warner are supporting McCain or not sold on Obama. Unless Obama can change that, it’s going to be hard for him to win Virginia.