Bob McDonnell has opened up a 51-37 lead over Creigh Deeds in the race to be Virginia’s next Governor, up from a 49-43 advantage four weeks ago.
The movement in the race likely has more to do with national trends than anything actually going on in Virginia. As Barack Obama’s approval has moved downward in the last month, so have the fortunes of Democratic candidates on the ballot in 2009. Democrat Jon Corzine trails by an equal 14 point margin in New Jersey.
Both candidates have positive favorability ratings- McDonnell’s is 54/26 and Deeds’ is 43/32. But McDonnell has a 52-33 lead with independents, and also has his party’s base more locked up. Among Republicans he holds a 94-2 lead, while Deeds has the 80-4 advantage with Democrats.
Deeds’ biggest problem, though, isn’t independents, it’s his own party:
Although Barack Obama took Virginia 52-46 last November, those planning to vote in this year’s election report having voted for John McCain by a margin of 52-41. Put another way, roughly 60% of people who voted for McCain last fall are planning to come out while only 42% of those who voted for Obama are. [Deeds] probably needs to generate enough excitement around his candidacy to get out closer to 55% of those Obama voters if he’s going to win.
There’s still time to do that, of course, and it’s likely that these numbers will close as people start paying attention to the race after Labor Day, but this isn’t a good sign for the Democrats, and a very good sign for the Virginia GOP.
In addition to the Governor’s race, Republicans also lead in the other two state-wide races:
In the other statewide races Bill Bolling is up 48-34 against Jody Wagner for Lieutenant Governor, and Ken Cuccinelli has a 45-32 advantage over Steve Shannon for Attorney General
Again, it’s early, but things are actually looking good for Virginia Republicans for the first time in many years.