[UPDATE] Gah! It's like a glitch in my brain. McDonnell, McDonnell, McDonnell.
That was the response of one of my colleagues from the news that McDonnell has taken a commanding lead in the VA race (and the news that Christie continues to dominate Corzine); while there's still three months to go before the election, and while Deeds did win the primary despite being the underdog, these numbers aren't good for the Democrats They are also roughly similar to last weeks SurveyUSA poll, which PPP itself notes:
The problem is all in who's motivated and planning to turn out- McCain supporters are at a considerably higher rate than Obama's, and that means a healthy McDonnell lead.
Last week I was skeptical of SurveyUSA's poll showing an electorate that voted for John McCain 52-43...but we actually found it at a 52-41 McCain advantage.
None of this should be surprising: it's an off-election year, the President will not be on the ticket, the economy is widely and accurately considered to be awful, and the current ruling parties of both states are widely and accurately seen to be part of the problem. Deed's specific problem is that he got the nomination by not being Moran or McAuliffe... which wouldn't have been a problem at all if the VA GOP hadn't decided to run somebody credible. But the VA GOP did, and now comes the unseemly scramble on the Democrats' side to hold the governorship.
The real question is whether the President is going to go all in with the rescue efforts - or, indeed, meaningfully assist at all. Either he will, or won't; either it'll help, or it won't. The problem is that... let me block this out.
- President assists Deeds; Deeds wins. The President gets modest credit for preserving the seat. He has fulfilled expectations.
- President assists Deeds; Deeds loses. The President takes significant blame for losing the seat. As this would not fulfill expectations, a 'reason' will be found to explain loss that will 'show' a blunder on the President's part.
- President does not assist Deeds; Deeds wins. The President gets modest credit for not panicking in this situation. He has fulfilled expectations.
- President does not assist Deeds; Deeds loses. The President may get modest blame for not assisting more. Expectations may be (in this case alone) managed after the fact.
In other words: looking that over, I don't see where intervening in this race particularly helps the President - at least, where it particularly helps the President enough to make the consequences of failure a risk worth taking. And as anybody who watched the Chambliss/Martin runoff election last year knows, the current administration is exceptionally cautious about that sort of thing.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.