Conor Rogers, Editor-In-Chief
Ideology: Moderate Republican | Writing from: George Washington University
Creigh Deeds has spent much of his campaign for the Virginia Governor’s mansion trying to liken himself to Barack Obama, and tie Obama’s fight for change with his own goals for Virginia. Mr. Deeds now has much in common with President Obama, but unfortunately for the State Senator, he’s inherited all of Obama’s coalition problems, and none of the President’s popularity.
Just as President Obama fights to keep the Democrat’s liberal base happy, and conservative blue dogs in line, Mr. Deeds similarly struggles to appeal to pro-choice, young and professional, ‘soccer mom’ Northern Virginia (NoVA) while holding onto his home turf in the conservative southern three quarters of the state. For the very conservative Republican nominee Bob McDonnell, like the national Republican Party, is becoming quite easy to hold together. Sen. Deed’s candidacy marks a new tactic for Virginia Democrats; rather than run a conservative Democrat – in the likes of pro-gun Jim Webb, or pro-life Mark Warner – who can carry the DC suburbs, state Democrats have nominated an unabashedly pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, tax hiker nominated by the northern suburbs, that the party hopes can hold onto the rural parts of the state. Recent polls place Deeds double-digits behind McDonnell, and seriously lagging behind McDonnell in the southern half of the state. But, Creigh Deeds is winning in Fairfax and Arlington, right? Wrong. Recent polls find Bob McDonnell’s low-tax, pro-growth message running dead even with Creigh Deeds’ ‘Bob’s not pro-choice’ campaign push in the Washington suburbs.
An even more telling problem for Virginia’s newly openly socially liberal Democratic Party surfaced just this week. Campaign Deeds thought they had found a bombshell: in 1989, then PhD candidate McDonnell opined in a 90-page thesis that government must encourage two-parent families, put-down the idea of working mothers and uphold traditional definitions of marriage. The Deeds campaign has hammered this dissertation online, in Ads and in Newspapers, but McDonnell’s numbers have gone up, not down. By pushing McDonnell’s assertion that traditional families are the best type for Virginia as an intolerant and negative thing, Deeds has made a tremendous mistake. In the simplest terms, Creigh Deeds slammed McDonnell for supporting a traditional model of the family in a state that (with the exception of its northern suburbs) vehemently backs such an idea.
Perhaps the same political team advising Creigh Deeds to raise the pro-choice and family values issues is the same team that advised Barack Obama that sending a message straight into every school in America wasn’t going to stoke fears about big government. Both President Barack Obama and Gubernatorial hopefully Creigh Deeds find themselves between a rock and hard place (well, more accurately: the left and a central base). Social liberal Deeds trying to rope-in rural Virginia can only by analogized to President Obama trying to sell big government to blue dogs – and unfortunately for the political prospects of both men, their public opinion problems more than anaologize: they are the exact same. In Virginia and across America, independents that joined the ranks of the Democratic party in 2008 are giving it a hard second look – something that should trouble every democrat from Creigh Deeds and Jon Corzine to Barack Obama and David Axelrod.
Virginia Democrats always dreamed of the day when their state would look like a microcosm of the United States. Now that it does, they’ve never had a harder time campaigning in it.