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Chris Graham: Handicapping the Virginia governor race, other state races

It’s hard, really hard, to imagine Democrat Terry McAuliffe not winning the 2013 Virginia governor’s race, and by a relatively safe margin.

state-capitol2McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chair, has a lead of at least six points in every legitimate poll taken of the race in the past week, with two polls putting his lead in the low- to mid-double digits.

GOP leaders have been putting out there that they see a window for Cuccinelli to win, but that window is low turnout in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads and solid turnout everywhere else. Which is nice if you can get it, the perfect electoral map, that is, everything breaking your way and against what would work out for your opponent.

But then there’s the real world. And the real world isn’t going to be kind to Cuccinelli tomorrow night.

The other sliver of possibility for Cuccinelli would be stealing away voters from Libertarian Robert Sarvis, who has been polling in the low-double digits in some polls, even as we all know that Sarvis will end up getting nowhere near that on Election Day.




It’s accurate to expect Sarvis to fade back to the 4-5 percent range, and even that may be generous when the votes are counted tomorrow night. It’s also generous to assume that Cuccinelli can get basically all of that vote to come to him when it leaves Sarvis, when the polls that have asked Sarvis voters their second choices have indicated that a slight majority of those voters, if they are to peel away, would actually pull away for McAuliffe, not Cuccinelli.

The call here: McAuliffe 51, Cuccinelli 45, Sarvis 4.

In the lieutenant governor race, this one has basically been over since May, when Republicans nominated E.W. Jackson to run on their ticket. It took a while for the polls to catch up, because it’s hard enough to get Virginia voters to pay attention to off-year governor elections that come on the heels of a busy presidential and congressional election season, much less asking them to also study the candidates down-ticket and render any opinions on them more than a few days out.

The polls of late have not been kind to Jackson, who is trailing Democrat Ralph Northam by mid-double digits the past couple of weeks.

The call here: Northam 58, Jackson 42.

Attorney general is most interesting, because I expect to see Republicans continue their 20-year winning streak in this race with Mark Obenshain, a Harrisonburg state senator, narrowly defeating Northern Virginia State Sen. Mark Herring. This one’s a hunch at best, because the polls of late have gone both ways, with Obenshain and Herring each holding leads.

For whatever reason, Virginia voters like to go Republican for attorney general, even in years when they go Democrat at the top of the ticket (like in 2001, when Mark Warner was elected governor, and we saw jerry kilgore elected AG;; and 2005, when Tim Kaine won the governor race, and Bob McDonnell won a narrow victory over Creigh Deeds for AG).

The call here: Obenshain 50.5, Herring 49.5.

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