Why Deeds Won In Virginia: Five Theories

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.

Presented by

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.

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we still save the night sky?

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we still save the night sky?

Video

The Faces of #BlackLivesMatter

Scenes from a recent protest in New York City

Video

Desegregated, Yet Unequal

A short documentary about the legacy of Boston busing

Video

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life

The Supreme Court justice talks gender equality and marriage.

Video

Social Media: The Video Game

What if the validation of your peers could "level up" your life?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Politics

Just In