Why Deeds Is Losing Virginia

The Democratic nominee for governor seems likely to lose the "newest blue state" next week

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Next week Virginia will elect a new governor, and despite its recent Democratic tilt, polls predict that Republican Bob McDonnell will defeat Democrat Creigh Deeds by a wide margin. Virginia's last two governors have been Democrats, as are both of its current U.S. senators. Virginia even voted for President Obama--the first Democratic presidential nominee to win the state since Lyndon B. Johnson--by a margin of seven percent. Yet none of this is saving Deeds. As his campaign has spiraled, it has even feuded with the White House for failing to pull out all the stops. How did Deeds manage to lose what many once called the new blue state?

  • He Can't Lead a Campaign, He Couldn't Lead a State Liberal blogger Ben Tribbett, a serious force in Virginia politics, blasts Deeds's campaign management. "There's hundreds of things that could be second guessed about the Democratic effort this year, but they all miss the big picture. 95% of the Governor's job is non-partisan, and has zero ideology behind it. It involves managing tens of thousands of state employees, setting clear goals and motivating people to work together to achieve them," he writes. "And to put it bluntly- Creigh Deeds is an absolute pretender. He's a super nice guy who can't even manage a campaign that is spending tens of millions of dollars. How would be ever manage a budget of tens of BILLIONS of dollars?" Tribbett comes close to switching party lines to endorse McDonnell. "Even though I disagree with Bob on the 5% of policy that will involve any ideology, I hope he can manage Virginia as well as he managed this campaign."
  • Obama Abandoned Deeds National Review's Jim Geraghty cites reports that the White House was distancing itself from the Deeds campaign. "For a campaign that leads, good news begets more good news and a bandwagon effect; for a campaign that trails, bad news generates bad coverage, which often triggers another round of bad news. Good luck persuading young Democrats to knock on doors or work phone banks next weekend, now that the entire political world knows that President Obama is writing off Deeds as a lost cause," he writes. "Obama is scheduled to appear with Deeds in Norfolk on Tuesday, but the White House leaks ensure that the coverage will focus on whether Obama's praise of Deeds is genuine, or whether he's going through the motions."

  • Virginia Still a Red State Conservative blogger Paul Mirengoff of Powerline defends Deeds. Virginia, he insists, is just too conservative and he never had a chance.. "Few candidates look good when the tide is running strongly against them. But I doubt that Deeds is the fool he's being made out to be. He did, after all, upset two fairly high profile Democrats to get the nomination," he writes. "Democrats have held the governor position for 8 straight years and Virginians are sick of them. (Ironically, the Dems are pointing to Deeds' alleged failure to follow the advice of Tim Kaine, the incumbent governor, whose lack of popularity is a big part of Deeds' problem). And, although Obama carried the state, its voters remain moderate to conservative."
  • Always a Contrarian State  National Journal's Bill Schneider has a novel theory for why Virginia was almost certainly going Republican. "New Jersey and Virginia often vote for the party that just lose the White House. Sometimes it doesn't mean a thing," he writes. "Contrarian voting is nothing new for Virginia and New Jersey. In the past five gubernatorial elections, going back to 1989, the two states have voted the same way -- for Democrats in 1989, 2001, and 2005 and for Republicans in 1993 and 1997. In every one of those elections, both states voted for the party that had just lost the White House. (In Virginia, the record of counter-national voting goes back to 1977.)"
  • Deeds Blew His Opportunity  The Virginia Pilot, based in the moderately conservative and highly populous Hampton Roads region that was key to Obama winning Virginia, expresses disappointment with Deeds. They think he had a real shot. "In braver days, the crisis might have transformed the 2009 election into a season of renewal and resolve. Instead, the two gubernatorial candidates have twisted it into a season of equivocation and insipidity. [...] The choice instead rests on which one will do the least violence to the cause each claims to embrace," they write. "There is no denying Deeds' sincerity and his will to move Virginia forward. But if his chaotic campaign is a measure of his executive skills, a Deeds administration is likely to yield trying moments."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.