In Va. Primary, Message and Momentum Trumped Money
By Ben Pershing
Well that wasn't close at all, was it? After a grueling but mostly civil campaign, Creigh Deeds pummelled Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran for Virginia's Democratic gubernatorial nomination yesterday, triggering a fascinating general election race and a wide range of opinion on how exactly McAuliffe could fall from frontrunner to afterthought so quickly.
What are the lessons from this race? Patrick Ruffini writes: "In the modern campaign, early money and establishment support matters far, far less than it used to, and could actually turn out to be a handicap -- particularly when money becomes the story." He adds, "As a campaign manager, I'd much, much rather be running the guy with a message and no money versus the guy with money and no message." Guess which one McAuliffe was? The Fix opines that "the critical moment ... when things started to move for Deeds" was when the Washington Post endorsed him. Hooray for the ascendant power of newspapers! Maybe we'll all get raises.
Blogging before the full results were clear last night, Nate Silver wrote, "This really is looking like a collapse of Howard Dean in Iowa proportions for McAuliffe; he had the lead just two weeks ago and now he's about to lose by 20+ points." In the same post, Ed Kilgore noted "the highly-organized Moran and McAuliffe GOTV efforts missed most of their marks," raising the question of whether massive voter-mobilization programs are really the path to victory in low-turnout primaries. Daily Kos points out "one incredible measure of Deeds' victory tonight -- he wound up sweeping 10 of the 11 Congressional Districts, including Jim Moran's 8th district, where he edged Brian Moran by three points." Looking ahead to Deeds' contest against Bob McDonnell, Politico says the race will "be a test of whether the political tide that swept in a Democratic congressional majority in 2006 and gave Barack Obama the presidency in 2008 still retains its power." It will also be a test of the legacy of Tim Kaine, who will surely bring the full weight of the DNC to bear in November.
Posted at 8:27 AM ET on Jun 10, 2009
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