The final polls, my prediction, more

Two new polls out Monday have Bath County State Sen. Creigh Deeds building a commanding lead in the Democratic Party gubernatorial primary heading into the Tuesday state primary.
The final pre-election Public Policy Polling poll has Deeds at 40 percent, with former nomination frontrunner Terry McAuliffe at 26 percent and former Northern Virginia lawmaker Brian Moran at 24 percent. The final pre-election Survey USA poll has Deeds at 42 percent to 30 percent for McAuliffe and 21 percent for Moran.

The two keys for Deeds – support in Northern Virginia and a massive break in McAuliffe critics in his direction. Deeds had been a distant third in NoVa as recently as mid-May, but now leads the three-way race among Northern Virginia voters in both of the new polls, getting 38 percent of the NoVa vote according to PPP and 40 percent according to SurveyUSA.

The PPP has an interesting breakdown looking at the preferences of voters who disapprove of McAuliffe, which comprise 40 percent of the electorate according to that poll. Deeds has a 58-35 lead among the anti-McAuliffes.

A third break speaks to the unique primary system in Virginia. PPP is projecting that 26 percent of the turnout in the Tuesday primary will come from independents and Republicans, and among those voters Deeds has a 48-22 lead over McAuliffe with 19 percent saying they will vote for Moran.

PPP has Deeds leading among self-identified Democrats by a 37-27 margin over McAuliffe with 25 percent for Moran. SurveyUSA has the race among Democratic voters much tighter, at 37 percent for Deeds to 35 percent for McAuliffe, and 20 percent or Moran, suggesting that even with the double-digit margins in Deeds’ favor right now the winner could still come down to whoever has the best get-out-the-vote operations on Election Day.




Projections of voter turnout have been varying wildly, from an estimated 3 percent of the state’s 5.2 million registered voters, or about 160,000 voters, up to estimates from McAuliffe campaign insiders that have the total closer to 350,000. That higher figure was an indication from the McAuliffe camp that the feeling there was that it would need more nontraditional primary voters to turn out to pull the lever for McAuliffe, but the late trends in the race would seem to suggest that a higher turnout would actually benefit Deeds at McAuliffe’s expense.

I say that recognizing that a couple of weeks ago it was the Deeds camp that was saying that a low-turnout race would play out to its benefit in the primary because it had seemed that a lot of the McAuliffe support was coming from 18- to 34-year-old voters and independent voters, who now according to the subgroup data have gone from backing McAuliffe by 15 to 20 points are now with Deeds by similar margins.

I’d caution anybody following this race that the subgroup numbers that we’ve all been eating up the past few weeks represent small numbers of voters with much higher margins of error as a result of their small size.

I’d also caution that projections putting 26 percent of the primary electorate as independent and Republican voters could be wishful thinking on the part of the PPP and Survey USA pollsters, who it should be pointed out don’t have human interactions with their polling subjects, since they use automated survey technology to conduct their polls.




That said, this race is now clearly Deeds’ to lose.

I’m going to join the chorus of those calling for low, low, low turnout, in the 3 percent area. I’m also going to break with the pollsters who are suggesting a relatively high turnout of independent and Republican voters; I think ultimately the nomination is going to be decided by Democrats

And I’m calling it for Creigh Deeds. I just don’t see any way for Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran to Brian Moran to make up ground on Deeds at this late stage in the game. I don’t see it being the blowout that the polls are calling for, but I foresee a solid Deeds victory just the same.




Which brings me to a final, personal observation. As a local Democratic Party committee chair, I’m going to need to be convinced that it’s going to be worth the time and trouble to do the heavy lifting that will need to be done to elect a social-conservative Democrat running against a social-conservative Republican when I’m not sure that Virginia is going to move in the right direction either way.

Projecting my energy level at this early stage, I’m having trouble conjuring up the idea that it’ll be there, but maybe I’m like the vast majority of Democrats who are still in post-’08 election fatigue and will skip the Tuesday primary because of having a million other better things to do.


– Column by Chris Graham

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