After Jim Geraghty wrote about the Deeds campaignÂ doubling down on the negative campaign â€“ and being called out in the media for it â€“ I really started to think about why Deeds seems to be flailing so much more now than he was in 2005. Sure, there are national trends to consider, but Iâ€™m not sure thatâ€™s it. The more I think about how I would be voting if I still lived in Virginia, the less convinced I am that it is playing a huge role.
Full disclosure, I voted for Creigh Deeds in 2005. So did most other voters since he onlyÂ lost by about 325 votes in a statewide election with nearly 2 million voters. At that time, he not only had the NRA endorsement, but I knew he was willing to step up as a Democratic leader for sportsmen. He was running on his own record, one that a non-affiliated, Republican-leaning, little-l libertarian, could generally get behind. I realized that we may not agree on everything, but for the issues I cared about, he was slightly better than McDonnell at the time.
By the time the 2009 primary rolled around and he had run a little left. He didnâ€™t run far left, mind you, but a little left. Deeds threw gun controllers a bone while McDonnell had strengthened his record â€“ a feat hard to do in the position of Attorney General where you generally shy away from policy. DeedsÂ canâ€™t keep it straight when it comes to tax policy.
Needless to say, this kind of stuff turns independent/crossing-the-aisle voters off. On a few issues, he has gone just far enough to the left without going far, far left to make Bob McDonnell the preferred candidate. And now, rather than being within a polling range of ~325 votes,Â heâ€™s falling far behind McDonnell for Round 2 of their match-up.
TheÂ NYT believes if Democratic votersÂ would have chosen a more liberal Terry McAuliffethat he would stand a better shot against McDonnell. I would venture to say that if Creigh Deeds stayed true to himself, history shows that he might be better off for a more competitive race. Sure, there are other factors to consider like a general backlash against Democrats, but some of those factors were in play in 2005 against McDonnell. Thereâ€™s also a money game. But I do have to consider that there are people like my mom and grandmother who were willing to back Deeds in the primary, hoping for the candidate of 2005 once the primary was over, but who are now voting McDonnell because of the slight swerve to the left by Deeds and all of the negative commercials.