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Put A Fork In Jim Gilmore, He’s Done

by @ 8:04 am on September 24, 2008. Filed under 2008 Virginia Senate Race, Jim Gilmore, Mark Warner, Virginia, Virginia Politics

There was a time when I thought that Jim Gilmore was the Virginia Republican Party’s best hope for holding on to John Warner’s Senate seat.

I wasn’t a fan of Tom Davis’s at the time, and when he decided to back out of the race after the state GOP chose a convention over a primary, I thought it was a good thing because it would keep the party united and, given Gilmore’s popularity, give the GOP a good shot to hold on to the seat.

Boy, was I wrong. As early as October, polls showed Mark Warner far ahead of Gilmore and that continued into January, February, April, May, June, and August.

Now, with 41 days left until Election Day, it’s actually starting to look worse for Gilmore:

Former Virginia governor James S. Gilmore III (R) has not gained any traction for his U.S. Senate campaign against Democrat Mark R. Warner during the past year, adding to Democratic hopes that the party will have two Virginia senators next year for the first time since 1970, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Warner, also a former governor, leads Gilmore among likely voters by 61 percent to 31 percent. Warner’s 30-point advantage is nearly identical to the margin he held over Gilmore in a Washington Post poll in October, a month before the Republican formally entered the race.

Warner’s advantage rests on the six in 10 voters who believe his views on most issues are ideologically aligned with theirs. Far fewer feel that way about Gilmore. About four in 10 think Gilmore’s positions are about right, while 31 percent said they are too conservative. One in five said Warner’s views are too liberal.

A year ago, many analysts predicted that the campaign to replace retiring Sen. John W. Warner (R) would be one of the most hard-fought Senate races in the country this year.

But Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) decided not to run, and Gilmore nearly lost the nomination to a little-known state legislator, Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William). And the GOP has struggled to put together a well-financed effort against Warner, who left office in 2006 with record-high approval ratings.

The poll, conducted Thursday through Sunday, shows that Warner has a lead in every region of the state with six weeks left in the campaign.

Warner is ahead by nearly 40 points in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads and has a 30-point lead in central Virginia, which includes Richmond and its suburbs, Gilmore’s home political base. Warner also holds a four-point edge in the rural western part of the state, which is heavily Republican. In 2006, Republican George Allen prevailed in the central region with 55 percent of the vote and in the western region with 57 percent, although he lost the statewide race to James Webb.

Warner has support from 97 percent of the voters who identified themselves as Democrats and near-universal support from African Americans (94 percent) and liberals (89 percent).

Gilmore is strong among white evangelical Protestants, who back him 58 percent to 42 percent. In addition, 69 percent of Republicans say they will support Gilmore.

Gilmore, who was governor from 1998 to 2002, is trying to counteract Warner’s efforts to reach out to Republicans by linking himself to GOP presidential nominee John McCain. The strategy assumes that the Arizona senator will win Virginia and most of his supporters will vote the party line on Election Day.

Given the polls, there’s no reason to believe that will happen.

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3 Responses to “Put A Fork In Jim Gilmore, He’s Done”

  1. Sandy says:

    Virginia used to be a reliable Republican state until the tremendous influx of New Yorkers mainly started moving here for the lower tax benefits. Unfortunately they brought their New York very liberal political views with them. In my general Charlottesville area, as well as others, the taxes are now going way up, with mostly Liberal Politicians. The infrastructer in Charlottesville did not keep up with the population boom, and now there isn’t enough of anything for anyone such as water, overcrowed roadways, hospitals and schools. The Charlottesville Budget is now so far in the negative they will never crawl back out without more tax increases.

    Your article points out that Warner has 97% of the vote of Democrats, African Americans and Liberals. Of course he does, as these are the same people who think big government should be their to fill their open palms. Like I said above, Virginia has now become little New York, plain and simple!

  2. Sandy,

    Have you actually met any Democratic politicians from New York ? They have very little in common with their Virginia bretheren.

    Virginia Democrats have won, and Virginia Republicans have lost, in recent years largely because they’ve done a better job of convincing middle-class suburban voters in places like Northern Virginia that they have their interests at heart. To a large degree, the Virginia GOP has nobody but itself to blame for it’s current predicament.

  3. [...] with the poll that came out earlier this week, there’s yet more evidence that the Virginia Senate race is, for all purposes, effectively [...]

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