Well, here we sit, just a week away from Election Day, and things are certainly not looking up for the good ol’ boy from Bath, Creigh Deeds. A spate of recent polls show the Democratic candidate losing to his Republican challenger, Bob McDonnell, by anywhere from eight to 19 percentage points, and his final chance for a knockout punch—last Tuesday’s campaign-capping debate in Salem—was, at best, a draw (and Deeds, true to form, ultimately snatched defeat from the jaws of mediocrity with a disastrous post-debate interview—but more on that later).
Sure, Deeds will get some benefit from the belated appearance of the Hopenator himself, President Barack Obama, at today’s get-out-the-vote rally in Norfolk. But, with a recent Virginian-Pilot survey of likely voters showing that more than 27 percent of black voters (and one-in-four women) remain undecided about the race, even a visit from the most powerful and charismatic politician in the country probably won’t be enough to pull this one out.
Making matters worse, Virginia’s homegrown African-American powerhouse, Governor Douglas Wilder, recently handed his would-be successor an anchor by telling the left-leaning website Talking Points Memo that “Virginia won’t sink into the seas” if McDonnell is elected.
Yes, a week is an eternity in politics, and crazier things have happened and yadda yadda yadda, but if you ask us (and we know you’re going to, because you’re always asking us something), Deeds is toast. Lord knows we’d like to report otherwise, because four years of writing about McDonnell’s blow-dried insincerity is going to kill us, but our job is all about telling the hard truths, not indulging in wish fulfillment.
So when did we finally throw in the towel, you ask? Actually, we can time it to the second: It was during the aforementioned spin room debacle, when Deeds intimated that if Congress passed a healthcare bill with a public option, and President Obama—the man, remember, who is coming to town to try and save his bacon—signed it, Deeds would still consider “opting out” of the government-run insurance plan.
Now, personal politics aside, this is just plain asinine. It’s as if Deeds still thinks he’s going to pick up enough conservative votes to offset the vast number of liberal Democrats he’s pissing off with his anti-Washington posturing.
So now the question becomes: What percentage of Virginia’s recently resurgent Democratic Party is Deeds going to take down with him? As blogger Ben Tribbett (of Not Larry Sabato fame) has perceptively pointed out, the Republicans’ 2001 redistricting made a large swath of Virginia’s House of Delegates districts very competitive, even though the Commonwealth’s subsequent leftward drift kept them from truly running the table. A sizeable McDonnell victory, coupled with general Democratic voter apathy, could shrink the Dems’ 44-seat slice considerably.
Then, of course, there are the Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General contests, which are also leaning Republican, although to a lesser degree than the governor’s race. Our gut tells us that incumbent Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling will keep his job, and that State Senator Ken “The Cooch” Cuccinelli—easily the most conservative pol on the ticket—will eke out an AG victory over Democrat Steve Shannon.
And then, for better or for worse, Virginia’s GOP will start to party like it’s 1999. Prepare yourselves accordingly.