Monday, May 11, 2009

McAuliffe Breaking From The Pack

Terry McAuliffe appears to be breaking away from the pack in the lively three-way race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Virginia.

A recent poll from Public Policy Polling has Mr T. at 30 percent, followed by Brian Moran at 20 percent and Creigh Deeds at 14%. That obviously leaves a lot of undecideds out there--including us.

(The same poll has Jody Wagner leading in the five person Lt. Governor nomination race, but really just about everyone--70%--is undecided on that one, probably because none of the candidates is very well known.)

If McAuliffe begins to emerge as a favorite, we could easily envision a surge of support for him amongst the undecideds, many of whom are trying to figure out who's going to win.

Let's face it: all three are attractive candidates, with similar positions on the issues. The real question for many Democrats is "which one can win?"

Republicans in the Commonwealth probably think that McAuliffe's long-time Clinton connections, out of state fundraising and suspect status as a true "Virginian" make him a juicy target for Bob McDonnell.

On the other hand, McAuliffe has proven his ability to raise money--lots of it--in a contest that will have a national profile. You can bet that McDonnell will be raising significant amounts of money from out of state, thus neutralizing that particular issue.

Furthermore, Virginia's a big state and the constest will largely be fought in the mass media, where money counts. Although we've poked a little fun at Terry M. a couple times here, he has, so far, run a very professional campaign, without doing anything that would hurt him in the general election (unlike Brian Moran, who's gambled on the gay vote).

At this point, we think it's McAuliffe's to lose (in the June primary). Unless he makes a gaffe. or one of the other two candidates drops out, he'll probably cruise to a plurality victory.

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