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Voters' Answers: 6. Mark Warner's Near-Sweep

Question #6: How close can Mark Warner come to sweeping every county and city in Virginia, and if he does win that remarkable support, what does that mean for next year's race for governor?

Very close, but not quite. Warner did not achieve the almost impossible, if slightly arrogant, dream of winning every city and county in Virginia, but he came awfully close. He lost, for example, in rural Augusta County, where Jim Gilmore beat Warner 51-47. But there wasn't a single jurisdiction in the commonwealth in which Warner didn't do well.

Does this spell the beginning of an era of darkness for Virginia Republicans? As I've noted in some of the previous answers to these election questions, there's no doubt that a period of redefinition and internal debate is coming. But the test is imminent: Next year's governor's race (Virginia and New Jersey are the only states that plunge right into big statewide races in the year following a presidential contest.)

If there were a Mark Warner running on the Democratic side, or even a Tim Kaine, it would be hard to imagine a Republican comeback. But there isn't. There are three apparent candidates for the Democratic nomination: Alexandria Del. Brian Moran, a longtime leader of the Democrats in Richmond and the younger brother of Rep. Jim Moran; state Sen. Creigh Deeds, who hails from Bath County and represents the Charlottesville area; and Terry McAuliffe, the veteran party fundraiser and Clinton administration figure who ran the Democratic National Committee and later the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign committee. You can expect an expensive, hard-fought primary campaign on the D side.

In stark contrast, the Republicans amicably came together around attorney general Bob McDonnell, a telegenic, smart former legislator who grew up in Fairfax County and represented the Virginia Beach area in the House of Delegates for 14 years. McDonnell is busy doing what much of the state's Republican party is reluctant to do--tacking to the center to make himself more palatable to voters statewide.

It would be foolish to hazard any guesses about next year's race, except to say that much will depend on just how deeply Gov. Kaine and the legislature will be forced to cut into essential or popular services in the forthcoming session in Richmond--given the economic situation, those weeks are likely to produce a bloodbath, and how voters will respond remains to be seen.

It's safe to say that whatever happens next year, the result will look nothing like the landslide that Mark Warner just won.

By Marc Fisher |  November 5, 2008; 1:10 PM ET
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