October 28, 2009
With a growing double-digit lead over Creigh Deeds in all the major polls (see Washington Post), I think it's safe to say that Bob McDonnell has this election locked up. But is it really safe to say (out loud) that he has this election locked up? Will all the rosy forecasts cause Republicans to get complacent and fail to show up at the polls in sufficient numbers? Hungry as they are for a win after eight years of Democratic control of the governor's mansion in Richmond, I think not.
To me, this is a vindication for McDonnell's prudent, level-headed style of campaigning, and his focus on pragmatic issues targetting middle-of-the-road voters rather than emotion-charged attacks aimed at "energizing the Republican base." The question is, will "The Base" learn anything from this campaign?
McDonnell's television ads remain focused on his own priorities (economic renewal via private enterprise) and Deeds' flip-flopping and fondness for tax hikes. Deeds did come up with an effective rejoinder TV ad, however, recruiting workers from a factory in Covington (I believe) who vouched emphatically for Deeds as someone who really cares about and understands them. Well, Deeds is a decent person, and I would expect such expressions of loyalty and gratitude from folks in his part of the state. But can he attract much support from elsewhere in Virginia? We'll see.
McDonnell, Bill Bolling, and Ken Cuccinelli will be campaigning in Waynesboro on Friday and at the airport in Weyer's Cave on Sunday, the big finale. Will the self-proclaimed "true conservatives" (a.k.a. "The Base") show up?
In Norfolk, President Obama made a spirited campaign speech in support of Creigh Deeds, with the sobering caveat that it will be a "tough race." (Translation: hopeless cause.) Obama's derision of Bob McDonnell as one of those "politicians who are more interested in scoring points than solving problems" could not possibly be further from the mark. See the Richmond Times Dispatch. Obama is already facing heat from the left wing of the Democratic Party who refuse to compromise on health care, so he really had little choice but to spend some of his political capital on Deeds. Everyone knows it was a ritualized gesture, so Obama won't suffer much if Deeds loses as badly as the polls suggest.
But if Democrat Jon Corzine loses the governor's race in New Jersey, that would be seen as major repudiation of the Democratic Party and its leadership. That could put the brakes on Obamacare.
One of the more amusing contradictions in rhetoric emanating from the self-proclaimed "Republican Base" is how quickly they are abandoning their erstwhile leader, George W. Bush. For example, Byron York at the Washington Examiner recently called attention to an interview in which Bush was bragging about having changed the Republican Party, dismissing the "conservative movement." As if he himself were not a creature (albeit an apostate) of the movement! It's yet another case of "cognitive dissonance," as I described on Dec. 9, 2008.
Meanwhile, Richard Viguerie keeps howling like a wolf about "RINOs," and you can almost imagine him frothing at the mouth. So, what else is new? Well, this time, he may have a point: There will be a special election next week in New York's 23rd District, where Republican leaders nominated a liberal named Dede Scozzafava. How could a thing like that happen? "True Conservatives" were outraged, so they picked Doug Hoffman to run on the Conservative ticket. See Washington Times, via conservativehq.com. By splitting the right-of-center vote, however, they may tip the election in favor of Democrat Bill Owens.