It is too early.
Anxious observers of both partisan stripes are waiting for the inevitable (or perhaps not so inevitable) negative impact Bob McDonnell's Regent University thesis will have on the Virginia Republican's fortunes in the 2009 gubernatorial race in the Old Dominion. A day after the beginning of the political week began, when this story broke, is just too early for this to have sunk in and have had any measurable influence. Does that mean McDonnell is headed for automatic defeat in this contest? No. However, this does represent an opening for the Deeds campaign. It affords the Deeds campaign the opportunity to energize their base and close the enthusiasm gap in a way that to this point has been lacking (not from lack of trying). As I said recently, this isn't the type of revelation that is necessary going to hurt McDonnell among conservatives, but it does potentially put some independents in play.
Is it to that point yet? Will it get to that point? Maybe. Maybe not. But it will take some time. Polls next week will be a good starting barometer of the state of things post-thesis.
|2009 Virginia Gubernatorial Race Polling|
|Poll||Date||Margin of Error||Sample||Deeds||McDonnell||Undecided|
|Rasmussen||Sept. 1, 2009||+/- 4.5%||500 likely voters||39||49||9|
In the meantime, Rasmussen released a new poll in the Virginia race today that did not really show that much movement from a month ago. In fact, Deeds dropped by a handful of percentage points among the sans-leaners version of the survey results while McDonnell stood pat. [Again, it is FHQ's policy to take that version -- the one where undecideds are placed in the camp of one candidate or another -- over the other.] Is this status quo result a telltale sign that McDonnell is safe on this? No, I don't think so (for the reasons I've mentioned already).
That said, the numbers didn't make that much of an impact on FHQ's graduated weighted average. Yes, Deeds fell a bit and McDonnell held steady versus yesterday's update, but we are not talking about some fundamental shift here. This was a status quo sustaining survey.
The bottom line? McDonnell leads, but an unknown has been introduced into the equation; one that could have an effect on the former Virginia attorney general's numbers.
State of the Race: New Jersey Governor (9/1/09)
State of the Race: Virginia Governor (9/1/09)
2012 Presidential Trial Heats (Clarus Research Group): Obama vs. Gingrich/Huckabee/Palin/Romney