VA-Gov: McAuliffe surges in primary, trails McDonnell by 7

A SUSA poll has come out on the Virginia governor's race:

http://www.wdbj7.com/Global/story.asp?S= 10265296&nav=S6aK

Of 409 likely Democratic primary voters, it's 38% for McAuliffe, and 22% each for Brian Moran and Creigh Deeds.  But McDonnell leads all three Dems in a sample of 1396 RVs, with McDonnell leading McAuliffe 46%-39%.  Deeds runs only behind by 5, 44-39.  Moran does the worst against McDonnell, trailing 46-34.

Something has shifted in the primary race, and it's going to be uphill in November no matter who wins the primary.  Is McAuliffe that bad a candidate?  I do think Bill Clinton's campaigning for McAuliffe has given him a boost.

So, can Brian Moran turn it around?

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VA-Gov: Moran Behind In Money, Ahead In Polls

Yesterday, the Democrats running for governor of Virginia released their fundraising numbers for the first quarter and it turns out all those fundraisers out of state and with Republican operatives are really paying off for Terry McAuliffe.

Terry McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, raised $4.2 million in this year's first quarter as he seeks the Virginia governorship, his campaign said today.

McAuliffe's campaign released general figures one week ahead of an April 15 deadline, applicable to all candidates for governor, to release detailed information about their campaign donations and spending. McAuliffe's campaign said that he has raised about $5.2 million for the duration of his campaign from 3,440 donors, which comes out to an average contribution of about $1,500. McAuliffe had about $2.5 million left to spend as April began.

Compare that to:

[Brian] Moran's campaign said Wednesday afternoon that it raised more than $800,000 in this year's first quarter, bringing the campaign's total receipts to nearly $3 million. It said that more than 90 percent of its donations came from Virginia residents.

And...

[Creigh] Deeds' campaign on Thursday said that it raised $600,000 in the first quarter and that more than 97 percent of that total came from Virginians. The Deeds campaign, which has $1.2 million cash-on-hand...

Moran's cash on hand is just $850k. But you gotta sort of wonder, what's Terry gotten for all this money raised and millions spent already? The R2000/DKos poll of the Virginia governor's race out today confirms what PPP found in their poll last week: it's Moran in first then McAuliffe then Deeds.

Brian Moran 24
Terry McAuliffe 19
Creigh Deeds 16
Undecided 41

Moran's small lead doesn't look like much, especially with such a huge bloc of undecideds, but considering McAuliffe's national profile and his huge warchest, this really does seem pretty sad for Terry.

Looking at the head-to-head match-ups between the Democrats and the likely Republican nominee, Bob Mcdonnell, things look even worse: Moran is barely behind Mcdonnell 36-37 while McAuliffe and Deeds both trail him by 7. In fact, Mcdonnell has his best showing -- 40% -- against McAuliffe.

Hard not to conclude that Virginia just isn't that into him and that, as Joe Trippi observed about last week's PPP poll:

As Joe Trippi wrote about the PPP poll:

What this poll shows is that despite how much McAuliffe thinks this race is all about the money, in Virginia money isn't everything.

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Virginia Governor Democratic Primary Cattle Call

Last week's Virginia Governor Democratic Primary Cattle Call

With only 129 days until Virginia's June 9th Democratic gubernatorial primary, the race is in full swing. The good news for political junkies is that the race has been receiving a good deal of attention. For those looking for a fix, on Tuesday Public Policy Polling* will release head-to-head and favorability numbers for the Democratic Primary. Somepeople think that Tuesday's Sharon Bulova result will be important. But it is an all hands on deck for all the campaigns and the only candidate trying to up the ante is Terry McAuliffe in his attempt to smudge the fact he hasn't helped down ticket Commonwealth Democrats by glossing over with cash.

What's happened in the last week?

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2009 Virginia Governor Cattle Call

On June 9, Virginia Democrats will vote for the gubernatorial nominee to take on presumptive Republican candidate Bob McDonnell in the top statewide race of 2009. There will hopefully soon be some head-to-head numbers for the primary now that the inauguration has passed. While Terry McAuliffe is planning to spend 9 gazillion dollars, at the end of the year the cash-on-hand numbers were pretty even. So where do things stand now?

Brian Moran It was a big week online with a warm reception at the Netroots Nation party, Joe Trippi coming on board ("Moran embraces a politics powered by the people, empowering supporters, not relying on millions of high-dollar donations and the status-quo party establishment"), and Kos saying, "The Virginia Governor's race is definitely shaping up to be a Big-Money Establishment (McAuliffe) versus Grassroots (Moran) battle." But that wasn't the big news for Moran. The big news was today's stories in the Virginia Pilot, the Washington Post, and Richmond Times-Dispatch on another bold move to protect the environment.

Staking his claim as an environmental champion, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brian J. Moran said yesterday that he opposes the construction of a coal-fired power plant in Surry County.

Moran recently came out against drilling for oil off Virginia's coast.


Standing up to the Old Dominion Electric Cooperative is, shall we say, rarer than is to be desired. Moran is not just seizing the earned media for the move, but is list-building online. With the plant expected to harm the Richmond area, Hampton Roads, and the Chesapeake Bay, beyond philosophical environmentalists there are a ton of people who should be applauding this move out of self-interest.

Terry McAuliffe"The Macker" had a different kind of big week, "double-fisting champagne flutes while standing next to Martha Stewart" and raising huge Park Avenue money as part of his big money plan. While this black tie strategy will line his pockets, when it comes to a newbie candidate with carpetbagger issues, there is the expected backlash (read the whole piece, it was recommended at Daily Kos today):

I reject utterly that the mere idea that Terry McAuliffe is going to be such a financial rainmaker is the SOLE reason that he should just walk away with Virginia's Democratic Governor nomination.

The problem for McAuliffe is that the more he spends, the more bitter the taste in the mouths of meritocracy focused progressives. How this could influence electability will be a concern until McAuliffe can lead in head-to-head matchups. Till then, the enthusiasm gap and backlash problem will be a point of discussion.

Creigh Deeds Senator Deeds' potential advantage in that he is the only candidate who could legislate right now, but under Virginia law this is also a liability as he can't raise money during the session. So Deeds is stuck treading water while the race solidifies as a contest between Moran and McAuliffe. Banking on a split NoVa vote is only a smart strategy as long as Deeds is viewed as a viable candidate. If he becomes viewed as only having spoiler potential, smart voters will want to be part of deciding the nominee as Virginia Democrats don't want to turn back the clock on recent successes.

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