Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds campaigns in Floyd
As Virginia’s state and local election campaigns head into the final week, Democrat Creigh Deeds continues to sink in the polls and many voters, looking at the two choices available for governor, feel like a Christian Scientist with appendicitis. They don’t know what the hell to do when they go into the polls.
But most just want the campaigns to end. The mud-slinging has reached an all-time high this election season and polls show a majority of voters are sick and tired of the flood of negative ads.
Republican Robert F. McDonnell carries a double-digit lead over Democrat R. Creigh Deeds in the final week of the campaign for Virginia governor, according to a new Washington Post poll.
The Republican, briefly buffeted in the polls by voters’ initial reaction to the publication of his 1989 graduate school thesis, has rebounded to big advantages on the top issues, particularly taxes, and is now seen as the more effective leader, more honest and more empathetic. McDonnell is also buoyed by support outside Northern Virginia, where he is outperforming all other top-of-the-ticket Republican candidates this decade.
Statewide, McDonnell leads Deeds among likely voters by 55 to 44 percent. McDonnell, who narrowly defeated Deeds in the race for attorney general four years ago, has been above 50 percent among likely voters in all four Post polls in the campaign.
The poll shows that Deeds has been unable to shift the dynamics of a race that in recent weeks appeared to be slipping away from him. Despite a concerted effort to reverse a widespread voter perception that his campaign has been largely negative, more than six in 10 polled see the Democrat as running a mainly negative effort. By contrast, most see McDonnell’s campaign as a predominantly positive one.
Deeds has also been unable to excite his supporters and close the dramatic gap in enthusiasm McDonnell has held from the start. About a quarter of Deeds voters say they are supporting him “not too” enthusiastically or “not at all” enthusiastically. More than nine in 10 of those who back McDonnell are “very” enthusiastic or “fairly” enthusiastic about the Republican.
Locally, most voter attention is focused on the Supervisor race in the normally-Democratic Courthouse District between Republican Case Clinger and former Floyd Town Manager Mike Maslaney, a Democrat running as an independent. Outgoing supervisor Jerry Boothe, a Democrat turned Republican, is supporting Clinger and Masleney has some baggage from his involvement, as a member of the county Economic Development Authority, in the controversial data center deal that went south last Friday when Data Knight 365 failed to come up with a $100,000 down payment on purchase of land for the deal and documents delivered to the county left more questions than answers.
Several voters who live outside the Courthouse District tell me they might not vote this year because neither McDonnell or Deeds gives them any reason for support.