The Deeds’ Obama question

Wonder if there might have been more to the scheduling conflict that kept Creigh Deeds away from that Barack Obama health-care town hall in Annandale last week?
“You could argue in light of these numbers that it wouldn’t be that helpful for Creigh Deeds to have Barack Obama come and campaign for him. At the same time a primary purpose of Obama appearing would be to generate interest in the election among his base voters who turned out last year but wouldn’t generally vote in an off-year election and thus aren’t getting polled,” Public Policy Polling president Dean Debnam said today in talking about approval numbers for Obama among likely November voters in Virginia. 

PPP found that among its identified likely Nov. 3 voters Obama has an approval/disapproval split of 48 percent/46 percent. The firm went into detail on the point about the approval/disapproval ratings being among its identified November voters. PPP is projecting much lower turnout among African-American voters and 18- to 30-year-old voters in 2009 compared to 2008, when Obama won Virginia by a 52 percent-to-46 percent margin over Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

One way to look at the numbers, then, would be to read that the dropoff would come almost entirely at the expense of Democratic candidates, given that the disapproval ratings for Obama match up nicely with the percent that voted for McCain in ’08.

Therein lies the question for the Deeds camp, which some analysts are suggesting might be having an internal problem with deciding what to do to distance Deeds from the doings of the national party. Their point gains some steam in consideration of the scheduling issue that was cited as the reasoning for Deeds to miss the Annandale town hall last week, the stated reason for Deeds to miss the town hall being that he’d had another event in the Hampton Roads area already on his itinerary at that time.

As several observers have pointed out, it’s not much of a stretch to think that the Deeds campaign could have rescheduled to allow their candidate to bask in the glow of Obama, who has gone to bat already for Deeds with a fundraising e-mail that went out on Deeds’ behalf in the days following his June 9 primary win.

The PPP poll numbers would seem to indicate that Obama could do a lot more harm than good in getting the voter groups that were energized by the ’08 Obama campaign re-energized for Deeds in ’09. PPP is projecting turnout among African-Americans down about 20 percent from ’08 to ’09, and the dropoff among under-30 voters being much more pronounced, almost 60 percent from ’08 to ’09.

My read on the numbers is that it’s probably early to be writing off black and young voters to the degree that PPP is, just as I think it’s early for the Bob McDonnell campaign to be up on the air to the degree that it is apparently to keep its numbers high when we’re still four months out from voters going to the polls. I made a similar observation last year at this time, when the McCain campaign went all out beginning in mid-July to turn around sagging poll numbers only to fizzle out both in terms of money and more importantly support down the stretch.

My read on the Obama issue for the Deeds campaign, meanwhile, is that we’re likely making a big to-do about nothin’ much here. It’s a fact of circumstances that Deeds and Obama have a lot riding on what happens here in November, so I think it’s pretty clear that we’re going to see a lot of mutual cooperation between the two camps this summer and this fall.

 

– Column by Chris Graham


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