Why Deeds Won In Virginia: Five Theories

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What accounts for State Sen. Creigh Deeds's last-minute surge of support and ultimately his butt-kicking victory in Virginia?  A few theories:

1. Macker fatigue. Terry McAuliffe's ads -- optimistic, programmatic -- were too effective early on. They reminded people that he's Terry McAuliffe... and maybe, just maybe, Virginians are over the entire Clinton orbit. (Check out how poorly he did in African American precincts.) McAuliffe is so thoroughly identified with the Clinton family among national Democrats that I would not be surprised if many a Virginia Democrat heard the Macker's accent and thought, ah, the Clintons are back. Speaking of accents: as Chris Cillizza points out, they matter in Vuh-gin-ya, and McAuliffe comes from Syracuse.

2. Geography. By refocusing his campaign message and targeting his appearances and events, Deeds was able to force McAullife and Brian Moran to split the regional vote in Northern Virginia, which allowed Deeds to maximize the effect of his non-NoVa, semi-rural base. The fact that Deeds won Northern Virginia remains a mystery when considering geography.

3. Doubt don't the power of influential newspaper endorsements in low-turnout primaries. Many NoVa voters were reminded of why they liked Deeds because the Washington Post so persuasively made the case for him.

4. Memories. Deeds is the one guy who ALMOST beat the Republican nominee, Bob McDonnell. Democratic primary voters know him and like him -- and, even though he's wonky and not the best communicator, seem to respect him.

5. Brian Moran. The guy who spent years waiting for this moment fizzled out fairly dramatically. Perhaps some Virginians are worried about the scandals associated with his congressman brother Jim, although I'm not sure how significant a piece of the puzzle that is. Certainly, Moran's obsessive focus on trying to tear down Terry McAulliffe may have worked in seeding doubts about the Macker...while telling voters nothing about Moran.

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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