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Scrambling regional patterns in Virginia

Both candidates in this year's Virginia gubernatorial campaign made claims of transformational regional appeal that would defy the state's typical partisan leanings - Republican Robert F. McDonnell touting his Northern Virginia roots and Democrat R. Creigh Deeds dubbing the rural west "Deeds Country." A look at the regional breaks in the latest Washington Post poll side-by-side with historical voting patterns shows McDonnell has done a better job translating his hometown ties into voter appeal.

Within Northern Virginia, McDonnell's showing at the moment nears that of George W. Bush in 2004 and 2000, and is about on par with Mark Earley's 2001 gubernatorial tally. But McDonnell has really gained ground in the outer suburbs. There, he has the support of 59 percent of likely voters in the Post poll, better than any top-of-the-ticket Republican this decade.

By contrast, comparing Deeds' regional standings to those of past Democrats, his showing could rate as one of the worst of the decade outside of Northern Virginia. Deeds trails by 22 points outside of the D.C. suburbs in the new poll, nearly four times as much as his own 2005 margin against McDonnell in the attorney general's race (46 to 52 percent, a 6-point deficit).

In the West, where Deeds holds a state senate seat, a 36 percent showing on Tuesday (his mark in the new poll) would fall below every top-of-the-ticket Democrat since 2000.

Deeds is the only recent Democrat to trail by double digits in the Southeastern part of the state; Kerry is the only Democrat since 2000 to lose there. And in the Richmond area, Deeds trails by 11. Not much worse than Jim Webb in 2006 (he lost by 9 points) or his own eight-point deficit in 2005, but far off the near even marks set by President Barack Obama, Sen. Mark Warner (in his 2001 gubernatorial bid) and current governor Tim Kaine.

Northern VA:
           Total   Dem   Rep   Dem-Rep
2009        30     56    43      +13
2008 Pres   28     61    38      +23
2008 Sen    28     68    31      +37
2006        28     59    40      +19
2005 Gov    26     60    38      +22
2005 AG     26     57    41      +16
2004        28     53    46       +7
2001        25     55    44      +11
2000        27     48    47       +1
Rest of state:
           Total   Dem   Rep   Dem-Rep
2009        70     38    60      -22
2008 Pres   72     49    49        0
2008 Sen    72     64    35      +29
2006        72     46    53       -7
2005 Gov    74     49    49        0
2005 AG     74     46    52       -6
2004        72     42    56      -14
2001        75     51    48       +3
2000        73     42    53      -11

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  October 29, 2009; 9:55 AM ET
Categories:  Crosstabs , Virginia  
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